BRUSSELS (AFP) - Hundreds of people have been flocking to a house in southern Belgium to catch a glimpse of a small statue of the Virgin Mary which reportedly glows in the dark.
Local media reported that on Wednesday, 500 people visited the house in the normally quiet town of Jalhay to witness what is being referred to as "the mysterious glowing Virgin".
Police have been required to bolster their presence around a pavilion erected by the retired Belgian owners of the statue, which witnesses suggest lets out a dull glow after dark.
The phenomenon was first noticed in mid-January and has gradually attracted larger crowds, with local media reporting that some of those visiting the statue claim to have been cured of a skin condition.
The statue, about 30 centimetres in height, represents the "Virgin of Banneux", from the name of a nearby village where in 1933 a young girl was said to have witnessed an appearance by the Virgin.
The town has since become a pilgrim destination in largely Catholic Belgium, although Catholic authorities from the Banneux sanctuary are expressing caution about the "glowing" Virgin.
"It's certain that something is going on but I can't tell you whether there is a natural or a miraculous explanation," said Father Leo Palm, who was sent to investigate the statue by the bishop of Liege.
The owners of the statue have refused to allow it to be removed for further examination, saying "she is fine where she is".