Who is she? Mysterious faces uncovered behind church organ

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NEWPORT, RI — The removal of a massive church organ in Rhode Island has uncovered a 170-year-old mystery involving the carved faces of a woman.

Workers were removing the 2,400-pipe organ from St. Mary’s Church in Newport for renovation when they discovered the profile in each corner of the choir loft, Rev. Kris von Maluski said.

“‘Who is it?” we started to ask. Some people thought it might be the Blessed Mother Mary because the church is named after her. And I humbly said, ‘I doubt very much they would cut the face of Mary in half,” Maluski said.

Construction of the historic church dates to 1848 and it was dedicated in 1852. Records from that time seem to have been lost, so there are no answers from the original architectural documents.

The church has its place in American history. It was the site of President John F. Kennedy’s wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.

A total of three organs were installed in the church between 1855 and 1958, according to the Newport Daily News. The female profiles may even have been visible in the church’s early years since each organ was bigger than the previous one.

A local University professor is trying to solve the mystery, but Rev. Maluski has his own theory involving the location of the faces. They were found at the end of a series of arches featuring the faces of Jesus’ 12 apostles, WPRI reported.

“I thought, Mary Magdalene, because of her place in the church, she is called the Apostle to the Apostles, because Jesus appeared to her first and told her to go tell the Apostles,” Rev. Maluski said.

But for now, the mysterious face hidden behind the booming church organ will have to be the song of legend.