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Thousands of Irish Catholics have flocked to a County Limerick church to pray at the stump of a recently cut willow that many observers say has the silhouette of the Virgin Mary. The phenomenon at St Mary's parish church in Rathkeale, population 3,000 or so, harkens back to decades when Catholic devotion and pilgrimages were the dominant feature of rural life in Ireland. Some are tying the fervor for Rathkeale's "Holy Stump" to Ireland's stunning economic decline over the past year. When a willow tree was felled near the church entrance, a worker cut through the stump at a near-vertical angle, revealing a wooden relief that inspires some to see the Virgin Mary. Picture James Horan