Unsolved Mysteries and Scary Stuff: Faith or Fiction?

Miracle eye

The Miracle Eye
Seven-year-old Ronald Coyne was supposed to be napping one afternoon in 1950 but instead he and his brother snuck outside to play. As boys tend to do, the pair began to tinker around with something dangerous – in this case, bailing wire. While flinging the wire around, Ron managed to smack it right into his right eye piercing it.   Over the next two weeks, the eye became infected and his parents had no choice but to have it surgically removed. In order to fill the socket a plastic eye was fitted to serve as a cosmetic solution to Ronnie’s deformity.

Coyne’s family was devout, and around ten months after his accident his family sent him to attend a vacation bible school. When Ronnie returned home he excitedly told his family he had been “saved.” The following June, the whole family visited a Christian revival and healing campaign that was being held at a local high school.

Once there, the pastor and his assistant brought Ronnie on stage. Coyne had issues with his tonsils and hoped the power of prayer could aid him. While the pair was blessing Ron’s tonsils they took note of his eye (which looked grayish in color) and prayed for that infliction to also heal itself. They failed to realize it was a plastic replica that they had glared at. Immediately, Ron said that the darkness that once overtook his empty eye now allowed for blurry, gray images to appear. Before long he claimed could see normally from his barren eye socket.

This created a media circus as skeptical reporters, doctors and true believers flocked to him to witness the miraculous healing. Ronnie allowed them to wrap his good eye with any number of instruments to block out his sight, but he invariably retained the ability to see and even read with his empty socket. Ron did state that being around non-believers could cause his vision to weaken. Once Coyne got older, he joined the traveling church circuit along with faith healers and those who sought the Holy Spirit who allowed people to “speak in tongue.”

Coyne made his living demonstrating his “gift”. He supplemented his coffers by taking donations from the church congregations, selling pamphlets, recording spoken word albums on his story and even occasionally appearing on national TV shows such as Oprah and “That’s Incredible!” By this time, he was emboldened by his practiced shtick and when atheists or other doubters attempted to tell him he was faking, he’d flat out tell them “God is going to destroy you.” As the years went by, Coyne put on an incredible amount of bulk and by the late 80’s weighed in at excess of four hundred pounds. This directly led to his death in 1994, when he was only 50 years of age.


Faith or Fiction?
Many magicians over the years have done variations of Coyne’s act, most commonly through a “nose peek” which is simply using the length of your nose to create a natural gap in the tape or gauze or whatever device is being used to cover your eyes in order to see and read what is placed in front of you. Other people over the years have claimed to use their fingers, toes or other body parts to read with, using the same basic trick.


Interestingly, there was a recent medical study published in Discover magazine which explained that much like amputees sometimes feel pain and other sensations in their missing limbs, those who lose their vision can endure a similar bane:


These patients reported seeing shapes, mixed designs of tertiary colors, primary colors, or even people and specific scenes. Some also report seeing “ghosts” walking among them – most often in what would be their peripheral vision. Science has yet to solve the reason behind these images or the “phantom limb” sensations.


glowing cross

The Glowing Cross 


This strange and perhaps miraculous tale originates in 1907 when Australian railway worker William Steenson attempted to stop a runaway train, only to end up tossed to the ground critically injured. After his death that followed shortly thereafter his family erected a stone cross at his gravesite with a inscription which read:

Sacred to the memory of my

Dear Husband William Thomas Thurling Steenson,

who died 

At Lismore 30th September 1907;
from injuries accidentally received in execution
of his duty at Mullumbimby; aged 29 years

Though sorrow and darkness encompass the tomb, 
Thy savior has pass’d through its darkness before thee…

And the lamp of his Love.

Is thy guide through the gloom.

Eleven years later the words on his granite cross proved prophetic as the memorial began to glow in the night. Reports from the time state that the light would bath the surrounding area. The phenomenon created a local sensation but as the years passed the cemetery became less utilized and by proxy less frequented and the “glowing cross of Lismore” became more a part of local folklore and less a paradox that gathered widespread attention.

This all changed in 1978 when a local Lismore woman visited the site and reported what she saw to a newspaper. When her story hit the paper several bigger publishers ran with it and this created a new found stir in interest in the cross. A media frenzy followed. Reporters, photographers, television shows, and the devout came to the town to bear witness to the anomaly. Stone masons, scientists of many fields, and geologists came as well, each armed with a hypothesis to possibly explain the bizarre happening. Some suspected radioactivity, other phosphorus deposits, light refractions, and some even thought glowing bugs may be the answer.  Some theories were easily disregarded, such as the light refraction theory, since the cross was made out of the same material as it’s base and the base did not omit a glow.

After the renewed interest in the cross died down once again, things returned to normal in Lismore until 1986 when the cross once again began to receive large spread interest. A side effect of this saw vandals begin to etch into the stone and it was pushed off it’s base at least once. Finally the cross outright vanished one night. It is not known whether grave robbers, religious fanatics or pranksters did this. The cross has never been seen since. The local rumor is the cross was thrown into a nearby river.

The family of Steenson saw donations pour in to replace the monument, and despite being made of the same material as the original cross, this head stone was never reported to have glowed. The cemetery was moved due to construction of a road but only the headstones were moved, the bodies of the deceased now reside under a roadside.

The circumstances that caused the cross to glow was never solved.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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