Case File: Holy Trinity Church
Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania
Date: March 24, 1989
Description: Holy Trinity Church is a community Catholic church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Above the alter is a large life size crucifix called "The Blinking Crucifix."
History: On March 24, 1989, a special mass was held at the Holy Trinity Church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to commemorate Good Friday. Over three hundred Catholics in a prayer group were at the church that day to celebrate mass, when Jim Cvitkovic, a server and the nephew of the priest, was praying, he looked up and saw that the eyes on the crucifix, which were normally open, were actually closed. He told his brother, Tom, who saw that the eyes were closed too, but he told Jim to go to the other side to see if it was just the light or if it was real, and he looked there and the eyes were closed. After the end of the mass, the brothers began crying, and their uncle, Reverand Vincent Cvitkovic asked them why and they told them that the eyes were closed. Vincent and another priest went to look at the eyes, and saw that they were closed, and called the man who had recently painted the crucifix, Domenic Leo, and asked him what he saw. He looked up, and was shocked to see that the eyes were closed, and he began crying as well.
A ladder was soon brought in to look at the crucifix, and Domenic got the first look of it. He saw that the left eye was completely closed, and the right eye was slightly opened. Another parishioner, state trooper Chris Marion, was skeptical until he went up to the ladder, saw the eyes, and realized that it had not been tampered with. Sue Tolfa, another member, said that the crucifix used to be in an area where anyone could light the big candle, and that she remembered every time she would look up, the eyes were open, until the day at the mass. That day, one parishioner claimed that he received a divine message, which read, in part "I have given this sign for all those who have faithfully come...truly my presence is within this church...within the months to come, many will flock to see what I have done. Welcome them, just as the people of Medjugorje welcome those who flock to see my mother." Interestingly, many of the Holy Trinity Church parishioners are of Yugoslavian descent, which is where Medjugorje is located, and four former Ambridge priests were born in there. However, many are skeptical about the case, and some believe that it was a hallucination or even a hoax. Since March 24, thousands of people have flocked to the church to see the crucifix for themselves, and even if it didn't blink, many believe a miracle still occurred because of how many people came to pray.
Background: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, is about twenty miles north of Pittsburgh and is slowly fading away because of the closed steel mills. The Holy Trinity Church is located there and its crucifix has been there since 1931. It was refurbished by artist Domenic Leo in January 1988.
Investigations: Suzanne Reiny is a Catholic scholar, and she feels that the parishioners and the Catholic faith led them to see what was not actually there. She believes that the prayer group sees this as a sign that they are successful, even though what they have seen was not there. The Catholic Church agrees in this skepticism, and that this event will not be authenticated as a miracle until several tasks and tests are done about it. Some also believe that the case might also be a hoax, although the parishioners say that it was real.
Extra Notes: The case first aired on the September 27, 1989 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Several weeks after the story was aired, the Bishop of Pittsburgh's commision announced his decision on the events in Ambridge. They reviewed video and photographs of the crucifix before and after, and found no evidence that a miracle occurred at the church. However, they did say that the people who witnessed it were sincere, and many are still certain that a miracle did actually occur.