Rescue workers and community members from a small Missouri town have a mystery on their hands. An "angel" priest reportedly appeared out of nowhere at the scene of a bad car accident Sunday, performed what is being called a "miracle" and then disappeared.
It all unfolded around 9 a.m. on Missouri 19 near the town of Center. Katie Lentz, 19, had gotten into an accident and was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat, reports area news outlet KHQA. A rescue crew arrived at the scene and worked to get Lentz out of the mangled car for 45 minutes, but they were unable to free her.
As time passed, Lentz's condition worsened. Eventually she asked if someone would pray out loud. That is when a gray-haired priest, dressed in all black with a clerical collar and carrying anointing oil, appeared and prayed over the girl.
Shortly after, the rescue workers were able to free Lentz and send her to the hospital. When they turned to thank the priest, he was gone. He isn't in any of the dozens of photos taken from the accident, and no one has been able to identify him.
"I think it's a miracle," New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed, one of the rescuers at the scene of the accident, told KHQA. "I would say whether it was an angel that was sent to us in the form of a priest or a priest that became our angel, I don't know. Either way, I'm good with it."
The teen's mother, Carla Churchill Lentz, feels the same.
She told USA Today that emergency workers said there is no way her daughter should have lived through the crash. She believes the man may have been "an angel dressed in priest's attire because the Bible tells us there are angels among us."
Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints, has a different theory.
"Most likely the priest will be identified, and people will be able to thank him," he told The Huffington Post in an emailed message Thursday. "If he's not found, that may mean he wants to remain anonymous. Could it have been an angel? There are similar 'angelic' stories in the lives of the saints, when a figure inexplicably appears and cannot be located afterwards. There are angels, of course, but we tend to ascribe to angels anonymous acts that we find incredibly loving -- when in fact human beings do incredibly loving things in hidden ways every day."
On her Facebook page, Carla Churchill Lentz revealed her daughter has undergone surgery for sustained injuries, including a broken femur, broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a ruptured spleen and a bruised lung. She thanked everyone for their support and asked them to "pray out loud."
A spokesperson from Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., told HuffPost that Lentz is currently listed in serious condition.