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Published: Wednesday, 8/17/2005

Toledoan savors sale of divine dumpling dished out on eBay

BY KARAMAGI RUJUMBA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Donna Lee's pierogi will be in a museum with a half-eaten cheese sandwich and a celebrity's pregnancy test. Donna Lee's pierogi will be in a museum with a half-eaten cheese sandwich and a celebrity's pregnancy test.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

A Toledo woman has been paid more than $1,700 to sell what she says is the image of Jesus - on a pierogi.

Donna Lee, a resident of the city's Point Place neighborhood, said she noticed the image while preparing her family's Easter dinner earlier this year.

And now an Internet casino known for its collection of odd artifacts, www.GoldenPalace.com, has paid her $1,775 for the pierogi, with a crust that some say looks like an image of Jesus. The company plans to include it as part of a traveling exhibit of unusual items it has acquired.

"It all happened right here," a visibly excited Mrs. Lee said yesterday, pointing to her kitchen cooking range. "I was frying my pierogies in the pan and then when I turned them over, I saw the face of Jesus."

Mrs. Lee, a devout Catholic and a clerk at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, said she put the special pierogi in a plastic bag and stored it in her freezer. She said her relatives gave her a hard time, making fun of her over the pierogi and for reminding them of her mother who died two years ago.

"Just before she passed, my mother always said that she saw Jesus and the blessed Virgin Mary everywhere," Mrs. Lee recalled. She said she plans on donating a portion of the money from the pierogi's sale to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, where her mother lived for the last years of her life.

Mrs. Lee said she and her husband, Thomas, - who celebrate Easter with their family with a dinner of pierogies, kielbasa, and ham - gave no thought to the Jesus likeness sitting in their fridge until last week.

That's when Mrs. Lee was convinced by her sister and brother-in-law in Michigan to put the special pierogi up for sale online on eBay, the Internet auction house.

Mrs. Lee pulled the frozen pierogi out of her freezer yesterday as she gave details of the sale to friends and family members who called.

"Did you hear about my story? It was my pierogi with Jesus. I sold him," she told a friend who called to inquire.

Ever since she put the pierogi up for sale, Mrs. Lee's answering machine has been inundated with phone calls from reporters from Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Texas, and Wisconsin. There were more than 44,000 Web hits for the pierogi on eBay before the sale ended Monday, she said proudly.

The Internet casino GoldenPalace.com was the highest bidder. The Antigua-based company recently started a collection of odd items and aggressively pursued the pierogi with the Jesus likeness.

"It's certainly in line with what we have purchased in the past," said Richard Allen, the firm's director of marketing and public relations. "These kinds of things have become a part of popular culture. This pierogi has a true likeness and, of course, people pay attention when we do stuff like this."

Mr. Allen said the casino company plans to take the unusual items on a tour of different American cities.

He said there is a market for people who want to see the items, which include a 10-year-old partially eaten cheese sandwich which purportedly bears Virgin Mary's image, a pretzel shaped like the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus, and a pregnancy test that allegedly belonged to Britney Spears.

It will be like a "museum on wheels," he said.

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:

krujumba@theblade.com or

419-724-6064.



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