Woman sees image of Jesus on the back of a stingray

It’s not as famous as Grilled Cheesus or the Nun Bun, but the image a James Island woman found Friday on the back of a dead cownose ray may be one day.

“I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man,” said Erica Scheldt, 24. “But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, ‘That’s Jesus.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! You’re right!’ ”

Scheldt and family members have been trying since then to name her find. So far, they’ve come up with Ray Rey. “Rey” means “king” in Spanish.

Over the years, images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa and Buddha have been spotted on everything from baseballs to lava lamps, cinnamon buns, beehives and grilled cheese sandwiches. Or at least they have in the eyes of some people.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, one of the most recent sightings of Jesus on an inaminate object came on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, when a man in Espanola, N.M., found Christ on a tortilla.

But as far as it’s known, never has such an image appeared here in the Holy City. Until last week.

Scheldt, a graduate student, was having a good Friday, swimming at Sullivan’s Island while baby sitting Gloria Orvin, 5, and one of her friends. Then some men warned her about rays in the water.

When Scheldt and the youngsters exited the ocean, the men showed her a dead ray that had washed ashore.

“They put it back in the water, and it came up again and got beached,” she said. “The girls and I were looking at it, and I thought it looked like a homeless man on its back, so I snapped some pictures.

“It was dead and I would have taken it with me, but I had no idea how to pick it up.”

Cownose rays have a toxin-laden stinger (or spine) high on the tail, close to the body.

Scheldt said others on the beach saw the face, but nobody else identified it as Jesus.

“I feel like if I did notice it and told people who were walking by, they would just think I was kind of weird,” she said.

Scheldt, a Catholic who is getting married this summer at Christ our King Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant, said she didn’t read anything into it, but she did see some coincidences.

“I did think it was interesting, with Easter coming up,” she said. “And it’s such a beautiful image on such a harmful thing.”

Scheldt also pointed out that she is from Nashville, home of the famous Nun Bun, a cinnamon roll that bears a strong resemblance to Mother Teresa.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.