By Dai Etty
Religious Affairs Editor
An Ipswich man had the shock of his life when he saw the face of Jesus staring back at him from his Nando’s chicken.
Joe Carpenter was about to tuck into his delicious peri-peri chicken breast at the Nando’s Cardinal Park outlet when something stopped him in his tracks.
To his amazement, the face of Jesus was ingrained on the crispy skin, sporting long hair, a beard and a surprised expression.
“I was in total shock,” said Mr Carpenter, 39, of Holywells Road. “I just looked at it in silence before my wife, Mary, asked me if something was wrong with my food.
“I showed her the image and she nearly fainted. She’s quite religious and saw it as a sign.”
Mary wanted to take a photograph with her mobile phone in order to show it her local vicar and get the chicken blessed.
But as she looked up from finding the phone in her handbag, she was devastated to see her greedy husband had eaten the Messiah and had peri-peri sauce dribbling down his chin.
“I was desperate for my cheeky Nando’s. With pangs of hunger I just dived in and ate Jesus,” explained Mr Carpenter. “I hope nobody is offended. And I hope I don’t get struck down by lightning.”
Staff at the popular restaurant chain were surprised when Mr and Mrs Carpenter told them the face of Jesus had appeared in the peri-peri chicken.
One waitress took it as a sign of the second coming of Christ. The member of staff, 18, who asked not to be named for fear of ridicule, said: “We’re now expecting Ipswich Nando’s to become a place of pilgrimage.
“More customers will be ordering the same peri-peri chicken to see if the face of Jesus appears to them. I admit it will be good for business.”
A spokesman for the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: “We’re sorry, we do not believe that Jesus has come back in a chicken. However, we welcome anything that might bring someone closer to God.”