A small tree in the city of West New York, N.J., has been attracting hundreds of people after area residents said a likeness of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared on its base.

The Jersey Journal reported that the image was first noticed last week by Eva Copantitla, of West New York, who asked Mayor Felix Roque if flowers could be placed at the base of the tree.

The large crowds that followed prompted authorities to place barriers around the tree to keep onlookers a short distance away.

"Most of the people believe it's a miracle," Copantitla told the newspaper.

She said local residents believe the image is meant to bring the people of West New York together.

While some visitors only stop for a photo, others pray and leave votive candles and flowers at the site.

Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness told the Journal that the image is likely “just some discoloration that resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe."

"But if it helps people to be stronger in their faith, then it is a good thing," Goodness said. "I think it’s more natural to try to encounter God in church, not by expressing your faith to a tree."

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