City man finds this pierogi a heavenly experience

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
10/11/2007

NEW HAVEN — Nebraska had a Mary-and-Baby-Jesus pretzel, and Nashville, Tenn., saw a Mother Teresa cinnamon bun. Now, a New Haven man says he has fried up a pierogi with an image of Jesus burned onto it.

Kris Kazlauskas, 21, said he was cooking some frozen pierogi recently when he noticed the face. As soon as he saw it, he said, he thought it looked like a representation of Jesus.

“When I flipped them all over I noticed that one — it was facing the right way (but) if it was upside down I never would have noticed,” Kazlauskas said. “I just saw, like, the hair and the beard and it looked like it had an eye there, and when you started looking at it in detail it just seemed like it did (look like Jesus).”

Kazlauskas said he was cooking for his girlfriend and her roommate, who also saw Jesus’ face in a dark patch on the pierogi. They told him not to eat it.

“They were like, ‘Don’t eat it, don’t eat it, something bad’s going to happen to you,’ ” he said, laughing. “Then afterwards, I thought, ‘Maybe I should have taken a bite — maybe it would have been good for me.’”

Unfortunately, the cheese-and-potato pierogi has now started to grow mold, which Kazlauskas has tried to scrape off. He said he has heard about other religious icons on food products that have fetched large sums of money and is considering selling the pierogi.

Probably the most famous example is a grilled cheese sandwich on which a Florida woman saw an image of the Virgin Mary. Ten years after making it, the woman sold the sandwich on eBay for $28,000.

In fact, this is not the first time a purported Jesus image has popped up on a pierogi, which is a filled pocket of dough. On Easter Sunday in 1995, a family in Toledo, Ohio, cooked a pierogi that they said had Jesus’ face on it, according to local news reports. They sold it on eBay for $1,775 to the same company that bought the grilled cheese, an online casino.

The Rev. John Gatzek, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said he thinks people sometimes have these sightings because “we would like to know that God continues to watch over us and cares for us, and we would like to know that we have an open line of communication to God.”

“I’ve been taught that God comes to us in the strangest places and the strangest ways, when you least expect him,” Gatzek said. “Can God come to us in burnt pierogis? Hey, perhaps if it reminds you of God, OK.”

But Gatzek added that he thinks the “authenticity” of these experiences should be judged through people’s reactions to them.

“Now what are you going to do with that message perhaps that you’ve received from up above?” he asked. “If it causes me just to say, ‘Oh, wow, this is a miracle,’ whoop-dee-do. That does nothing for anybody, and if I think I’m going to get rich quickly by putting this pierogi up for sale on eBay, there’s something wrong with my warped sense of spirituality.”

This is not the first time area residents have reported such religious imagery. New Haven’s Wooster Square is already known for a “Jesus tree,” a sycamore that some people said looked like a crucified Christ. In 1992, the tree drew hundreds of people to the square to pray, light candles and observe. Earlier that same year, a Milford woman said she could make out Jesus’ face in a tree in her back yard, which also attracted curious sightseers.

Kazlauskas said he is Catholic, although he is not particularly religious.

Even before the pierogi, Kazlauskas said he had been planning to dress up as Jesus for Halloween this year and is growing out his beard.

“Maybe, subconsciously, Jesus is on my mind,” he said. “All these little things came into consideration. I’m like, this is really weird.”

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