An 81-year-old lady from Chicago, Illinois claims the image of the Virgin Mary has appeared on the stomach of a sand turtle her grandson bought for her.

Shirley McVane claims the Virgin Mary, one of the most revered figures in the Roman Catholic Church visited her home because their house if "holy."

Her daughter Dolly Fordyce, 58, told the Chicago Sun, "I thought we were going crazy the first time I saw it. I looked at it and said, 'It can't be.' But then I looked again. I mean, you can't deny it."

McVane adds, "She came to a holy house. I think she came to visit us so God knows she's happy and safe."

But the Archdiocese of Chicago said the church tolerates such things if it brings the faithful back to God. Dianne Dunagan, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said "If something like that causes people to think about God and pray, that's a good thing.

"Time usually takes care of these things. If it gets to the point where people are flocking to this thing, the church will call in experts. If people forget about it, it may just fade away."

The traditionally conservative Roman Catholic Church conducts exhaustive investigations into reported apparitions before confirming if it is genuine or not.