The Belmez Faces

Image of the face that reappeared after the destruction of the floor with the pick axe. This image would later become known as “la pava.”

The Belmez Faces, or The Faces of Belmez, as it has come to be known, has been called one of the best documented cases of paranormal phenomenon of the 20th century.

In August of 1971, in the small town of Belmez, Spain, a mysterious stain appeared on the cement kitchen floor, in the home of Maria Gomez Pereira. The stain moved and evolved each day until it formed the image of a face.

Maria, terrified by the ghostly image, attempted to remove it. Despite several scrubbings, the image remained. It was then that Maria’s husband, Juan Pereira, and their son, Miguel, destroyed the image by removing the concrete section with a pick axe. New cement was laid, but the ghostly image of the face reappeared about a week later.

The Excavation

By this time, the story had spread around Belmez, attracting many visitors. Still disturbed by the ghostly face, the Pereira family wanted the image destroyed, but word of the it had made it to the mayor, who forbade its destruction so that it may be cut out and removed for study. The Pereira family requested the help of the City Council, which decided that the floor beneath the Pereira’s kitchen should be excavated, to see if they could find the source of the phenomenon. Shockingly, numerous skeletons, some of them headless, were found buried about eight to nine feet below the Pereira’s kitchen. Tests showed that some of the bones dated back as far as the 13th century.

The skeletons were removed from the excavation and given a proper burial at a Catholic cemetery. The hole was filled, and once again, the floor re-cemented. However, within a couple of weeks, a new face appeared on the cement floor. The excavation seemed to have intensified the activity of the phenomenon. Now, different faces would appear, only to fade out and be replaced by a distinctly different face, sometimes in the period of just a few hours. At times, even women and children appeared among the images of the faces.

Witnesses and Investigations

The Pereira house, becoming increasingly famous, was attracting visitors by the hundreds. Witnesses to the phenomenon included students, researchers, priests, police officers, journalists, and even the renown German paranormal investigator Dr. Hans Bender, who called it the most important case of paranormal phenomenon of the century (20th).

As part of an investigation, samples of the cement slab were taken to the Instituto de Ceramica y Vidrio or ICV (Institute of Ceramics and Glass) for analysis, which found no traces of paint or dyes in the sample. In another experiment, the kitchen floor was photographed in sections, then covered with a jacket, which was sealed at the edges. The room and windows were also sealed with wax, to prevent tampering.  All of this took place in front of a German television crew, and in the presence of the town’s notary. The kitchen went untouched for 3 months. Upon removal of the jacket and wax, it was apparent that the faces had evolved and moved about the floor.

The Thoughtographic Hypothesis

Some researchers hypothesized that the images were thoughtographic in nature, meaning that the faces were a psychokinetic phenomenon where a human agent was either consciously, or subconsciously, projecting the images onto the floor. In this case the human agent was Maria Pereira. In support of this hypothesis, it was observed that the facial expressions of the images would often mimic Maria’s emotions, and that the activity would subside when Maria was away from the house.

The Phenomenon Continues

Maria Gomez Pereira passed away on the morning of February 3rd, 2004. Hundreds came from all over Spain to pay their final respects. Some thought that the phenomenon would cease with her passing, however, investigations after her death showed that the faces were still evolving and moving about the floor. At last word, the phenomenon still continues to this day.

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