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Metropolitan Digest / Los Angeles County News In Brief

CANOGA PARK : Company Halts Sale of Cross With 'Miracle' Dirt

October 01, 1992

Following protests from a Roman Catholic church in New Mexico, a Canoga Park distributor has halted sales of a cross including "miracle" dirt that the seller guaranteed would bring its owners love and riches.

Burton C. Unsen, who created the cross for his mail-order company that sells occult and New Age products, notified church officials in Chimayo, N.M., on Tuesday that he was discontinuing the item, a church spokeswoman and an Unsen employee said Wednesday.

Priests there had charged that supermarket tabloid advertisements for the cross implied that dirt in the cross came from the famed Santuario de Chimayo, a 19th-Century chapel. An estimated 300,000 people yearly visit a legendary pit in the chapel, which contains dirt that many believe has curative powers.

The ads did not say that the dirt in the mail-order crosses--priced from $15.95 to $18.95--came from the chapel, but the text included a history of the shrine and a description of its supposed powers. "It was misleading, probably on purpose," said the pastor of the church that oversees the chapel.

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