- Villagers in Russia claim that the face of Jesus has appeared on a birch tree
- An image of a saint is also claimed to have appeared on the tree
- The images began to appear in Burmakino in central Russia's Kirov Oblast
- Now whole congregations of people gather in front of the tree to pray
Wood you believe it? Churchgoers in Russia have begun worshipping a tree after claiming that religious icons with the faces of Jesus and the saints appeared on its trunk.
The images began to appear on the birch tree in the village of Burmakino in central Russia's Kirov Oblast last month in the places where gardeners had trimmed off old branches.
Villager Valentina Naumova explained: 'We thought nothing of it until the tree started to form these arched shapes, just like church icons.
'It seems to me that they had come to us because they wanted to tell us something.'
The village has had no church building of its own since it was destroyed by Communists in the 1930s. In the Soviet Union, all church owned property was confiscated and turned over to public use and most of it - like the property at Burmakino - was destroyed.
Now whole congregations of people gather in front of the tree to pray and give thanks.
Icons are powerful religious images in the Russian Orthodox Church and are believed to be able to work miracles.
Church leaders are so impressed with the display they now plan to rebuild the village's church, the Kazan Divine Mother church.
Spokesman Father Felix Ozerov explained: 'The holy father has spoken and we are listening.'