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July 21, 2014
(revised version of report presented to Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample)

The photograph of August 15, 1991 in Portland, Oregon
Click on image for larger version

How this photograph was taken and
how individuals have been responding

On August 15, 1991, Solemnity of Our Lady's Assumption, my family: my mother in a wheelchair, my wife, our 11 year-old son, and myself attended the 10 a.m. Mass in the chapel of the National Shrine of Our Sorrowful Mother in Portland, Oregon. The chapel was packed with hundreds of people from Portland and nearby towns, as the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico was on display in the chapel. After the Mass, many people were surrounding the Image, touching it, praying, and taking photographs. After most of them left and there were only about a dozen people still praying before the Image, I took a photograph of the same Image for the purpose of keeping the photograph in our living room. As an immigrant from Korea in 1972 (my age was 27; naturalized in 1982), I knew little about Our Lady of Guadalupe in the first several years, but gradually deepened my knowledge of and love for the Image. The film was developed at Costco after my son Chris and I returned from our first trip to Europe (8/19 ̶ 30, 1991). The purpose of this trip was to meet a British business person in Germany and to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, for which I had longed for years.

When we picked up the photographs at Costco, we were puzzled over an unexpected image looking like the Eucharist on the tip of Our Lady's folded hands in one of the photographs. We were amazed, but did not even imagine that it could be miraculous. But we still wondered how this image of the Eucharist appeared exactly on the tip of Our Lady's hands. The size of this image was also the same as that of the Eucharist received by lay faithful during Mass. Chris and I went back to the shrine and were convinced that there was no light source in the chapel that could cause the reflection of an image looking like the Eucharist in a photograph.

Soon, more people saw this photograph and expressed their amazement. A lady, the manager of a Marian center in Portland, said that this photograph was an important blessing. Another lady in Scottsdale, Arizona said that there was an image of the Holy Spirit above the Blessed Mother's right shoulder. A young man in Sparks, Nevada, wrote that he could not sleep all night because he was totally absorbed in this photograph. A Korean lady in Los Angeles asked me to send 100 copies of this photograph and, after receiving them, told me that she and her husband smelled a strong fragrance of roses from the photographs when they opened the package and asked me if I sprayed perfume on the photographs. We, of course, had not even imagined such a possibility. A priest in Alabama, whose name I cannot remember (it was in 1991) but whom we saw many times on EWTN, must have received a photograph from a layperson and sent us letters several times with enthusiasm and requesting more copies. Mr. Dan Lynch, a lawyer and the Director of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe Apostolate in St. Albans, Vermont, was in Portland and visited the chapel of the National Shrine of Our Sorrowful Mother in 1994. He seemed deeply impressed by the beauty and holiness of the chapel and especially by the huge painting on the front wall of the Holy Trinity bestowing the royal crown on Our Lady. He was pleased when I took him to the very spot in the chapel where I had been standing to take the photograph of the Missionary Image. He believed in the miraculous nature of this photograph and later included it in one of his books on the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Late in 1991 or in 1992, I sent a copy of this photograph with a letter to His Excellency Archbishop William Levada of the Archdiocese of Portland. Soon, I received a very encouraging letter from a priest (probably the vicar general) expressing much joy and congratulation about the photograph. He said that the Archbishop was out of town and would respond after his return. Later, I received a letter from the Archbishop (or written by someone else in his office) saying to me (1) to be careful about this photograph and (2) There is a reflection of a candlelight in the photograph. There was no other positive or negative comment. For a long time, I did not understand what this latter sentence (2) meant. Only years later, I realized that it meant there was the possibility of the "new" images being reflections of prepared images placed before the Missionary Image. As seen in the two photographs below, taken right after I took the photograph of the Missionary Image, there still were about a dozen people including Chris praying before the Image and they must have seen me taking the photograph. To create the reflections of such delicate "unexpected" images in the photograph, a highly precise, professional, and time-consuming preparation and execution would be necessary (or even with all these talents and enough time, it may not be possible), but I had none of these abilities, and it took me only 5 to 10 seconds to take the photograph of the Missionary Image. Chris also knows that the possibility of images being intentionally added to the photograph was zero. Most importantly, I had no intention of or interest in such an evil scheme. If the above sentence from the Archdiocese only meant that one must be careful about the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I totally agree.

   Scenes inside of the chapel at the National Shrine of Our Sorrowful Mother in Portland, Oregon right after I took the photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe on August 15, 1991. The little boy praying in the back of the chapel (the left photo) and before the Image of Our Lady (the right photo) is Chris.

Development of our films has always been done at Costco. One day in the end of 1991 or early 1992, we picked up another envelope containing printed photographs at Costco and were enormously shocked. At that time, Costco in Portland was relying on Costco in Seattle for developing films and printing photographs. Together with the photographs, there was a letter in the envelope saying that the film was accidentally torn in the machine and apologizing. I felt as if the sky were falling. I wondered: If this photograph was truly from Heaven, how would it be possible that its film was torn? Then, I saw that there was a new film made by Costco in Seattle by photographing a previous print, together with some new prints made with the new film. I was not satisfied and still was deeply in shock and frustration, but I carefully examined the prints made from the new film. Every detail was exactly the same as before, but the color of Our Lady's mantle was somewhat brighter than before. Strangely, she had dark-colored hair instead of wearing a veil or mantle. As I continued examining the new prints, I gradually came to like them more than the previous prints, as the original photograph was dark as the Missionary Image itself was dark as seen in the photograph above. Eventually, we were pleased and thanked God for this shocking and amazing incident. We felt that this was another act of God turning a disaster into a blessing and making the images in the photograph livelier and more energetic. Regarding the possibility of fabrication, photographic experts should be able to discern if any fabrication occurred without difficulty.

After I received the letter from the Archdiocese, a layman in Portland advised me not to seek the investigation by the Church authorities because such matters were for private interests only. I thought his advice was reasonable for most cases involving photographs. The case of the photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe taken on August 15, 1991, however, seemed to have some special qualities which would justify and require more serious consideration and even an official investigation by the Church authorities, as explained below (1 to 7). Because of these qualities, I believed I was obligated to really know whether this photograph was an object of private interest only or contained more serious meaning and purpose. If there really was a mission from above regarding this photograph but I ignored and neglected it, I would be acting against God's Will. Our Lord said, "Not everyone who says to me, ÔLord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:24). Therefore, I have strongly wanted that the photograph of Our Lady taken on August 15, 1991 be reported to the Archdiocese for evaluation. I am afraid I have waited too long. It was 23 years ago that this photograph was taken, but, still, it is known only to very few people.

A priest, who is a rector of a monastery in America and is well known for his profound knowledge of the Catholic Teachings and about the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, saw this photograph. In his e-mail to a lay person in November 2011, he said that he believed this photograph to be miraculous. He also said that the new images in the photograph were not really new or additional to the original Image but had been contained in the original Image since its beginning and are being exposed now, as a flower bud bursts at its right time. So, this photograph of August 15, 1991, is not a change of or separation from the original Image but its continuation and blossoming. This priest also commented that there seemed to be a connection between this photograph and the recent events in Naju, Korea, in the sense that, at both places, the needs to end abortions and to deepen our understanding of the essential role of Our Lady in God's plan of human salvation are forcefully emphasized.

The following are what I consider to be special qualities of the photograph of August 15, 1991:

  1. The photograph of August 15, 1991, contains many unexpected images such as the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother kneeling and praying (and weeping), Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, the Cross, unborn babies, and the Blessed Mother's black hair which seems to indicate that she is ready to receive the royal crown from the Holy Trinity, all appearing in the photograph at the same time on the Solemnity of Our Lady's Assumption at the National Shrine of Our Sorrowful Mother and all being key concepts of the Catholic Faith. Also, even though these images appeared in a photograph, it carries the solemn Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, already Church-approved, solidly established as a holy gift from God, which converted, consoled, and united millions of people especially in Latin America. It is not possible that the appearance of these images were trivial or accidental.
  2. In the Image of August 15, 1991, a small image of Our Lady (looking like Our Lady of Naju in Korea) kneeling and praying near the bottom of her larger image is formed with a long and very visible line formed by the fold on the right side of her dress which had already existed on the original Image of 1531. This fold had always been perceived only as a fold on the dress, but now is seen as the Blessed Mother's back and legs. The image of her head is formed with a bent beam of light completing the image of Our Lady kneeling and praying. There also are little images of babies in her image. This, I believe, is an evidence that this new photograph of August 15, 1991 had been expected before the original Image appeared in 1531. (There even is a tiny head of the smiling serpent behind Our Lady's lower back, waiting for the Lady to give birth to her Baby.)
The Original Image Photograph of August 15, 1991 (black & white)
  1. In the original Image of 1531, the Blessed Mother is lifting the left side of the mantle with her left arm, and this lifted mantle is forming a space between her left arm and her left side that can hold something in it. It is obvious that the length of her mantle on her left side is shorter than her mantle on her right side. In the photograph of August 15, 1991, this space between her left arm and her left side forms a large image of her Immaculate Heart which is capable of holding whatever she wants to. In her message in Naju, Korea, the Blessed Mother asked us to seek refuge in her Immaculate Heart which is larger than the Universe (meaning that it can shelter all the people in the world). In the end time (referring to our present time; but not meaning the final end of the world), there will be many difficulties as chastisement for the overflowing and obstinate sins in the world (as well as special blessings), and, therefore, Our Lady is crying out to us to repent and return to Our Lord and seek refuge in her Heart. This large image of the Blessed Mother's Immaculate Heart also seems to indicate that the new photograph of August 15, 1991 had been expected before the appearance of the original Image in 1531. It may even be said that this photograph is a blueprint of God's Plan for our times. Now, the question of why Our Lady was lifting the left side of her mantle seems to have been resolved.
  2. (There can be a question why we are studying the details of these tiny visible images and their meanings, but Our Lady of Guadalupe has been using these little images to teach and convert millions of people in the previous centuries because most people were illiterate; and even in our modern times, photographs are the most precise, detailed, effective, and fast means in communicating the visual information like the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as in medicine and other sciences.)

  3. The Mexican people have known that Our Lady of Guadalupe was pregnant with the Baby Jesus. This means that the original Image of 1531 covers the centuries during which Our Lady was walking toward her destination. (In the original Image of 1531, Our Lady is seen to be lifting her left leg a little indicating that she is stepping forward.) When a journey begins, it must also some day reach its end. The photograph of August 15, 1991 can be a signal that we are entering a new age during which Our Lady will accomplish her Triumph and open a new era reigned by Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist (cf. Genesis 3:15 & Apocalypse 12, and Our Lady's prophecy in Fatima).
  4. Also, as we all know, the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is not a product of human thought and hands, but is from the Divine Source. Even when this Image is printed on a piece of cloth or paper, it should never be handled lightly as a piece of cheap cloth or paper. We must have utmost awe, respect, faith, and love toward the images that God sent us such as the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Las Lajas (1754 in Colombia; also approved by the Church). When we look at a true miraculous image, we can perceive it as a living reality, if we keep our minds and hearts open to God's Will and infinite Power.
  5. Several years ago, a family moved in a house across from ours in Gresham. Soon afterwards, they began being tormented by loud and sickening noises made by the spirits or devils at night. This family had suffered for months. Then, the mother of the family finally asked me if I could help them. I gave her holy pictures and holy water. Several days later, she said it became quiet for a few days, and then the spirits came back. I gave her more holy pictures, more holy water, and some blessed salt. The lady said that it became quiet again, but, a few days later, they resumed annoying the family every night. Finally, I gave her five copies of the photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe taken on August 15, 1991, explaining the photograph and asking her to place one photograph in each room. They were Protestants, but had respect and love for Our Lady, as they knew well what mother meant. I checked with the lady occa-sionally and she said that they were freed from the suffering as the evil spirits ran away and never came back. Months later, her eldest son, a policeman, also said Thank you. From this experience, I learned that the devils really fear the photograph of Our Lady which has the images of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit and lots of images of the Light. I wish that this photograph be explained and sent to everyone in the world. All of us live in dangerous times; this photograph may be a simple but powerful help that God prepared for us. God used the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to save the Aztec people from idolatry and human sacrifices and to convert the entire populations of Latin America to the Catholic Faith centuries ago; now, God may want to use this Image again (with some new images) as a tool in saving and protecting us from the worship of numerous other idols, abortions, and many other sins.
  6. My family keep the photograph of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe taken on August 15, 1991, in every room, our cars, and our wallets. Whenever we see this Image, we are reminded of the living and loving presence of our Lord and Blessed Mother. It is like tasting a little of Heaven. The large light beams in the middle of the photograph of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe of August 15, 1991 are the reflection of my camera flash. This reflection was expected before I took the photograph as the Missionary Image was covered with glass. I felt frustrated because this reflection would ruin the photograph. I could not do anything about it and, so, proceeded with taking the photograph anyhow, entrusting the difficulty to Our Lord and Our Lady. The result was that this reflection of camera flash was used to form many of the new images in the photograph. My disaster was turned into joy and gratitude. "God is Light" (1 John 1:5), not like the light we use on earth but the supernatural light that contains all the infinite perfections, power, love, and holiness of God Himself. The Blessed Mother is filled with and surrounded by this Light, as she is filled with God's Grace. The photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe is also filled with the images made of this Light for all of us, her children.

I swear that the contents of this report are true and accurate to the extent of my knowledge and conscience.

Benedict Labre Sang M. Lee
Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.
July 21, 2014

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