At first glance it might seem like a normal apartment in Surrey – but people are flocking from across the country to pray in front of an oil-soaked wall they believe is sacred.

It all began three weeks ago, when devout Catholic Sanna Lona was alone in her bedroom in suite 315 of Guildford's Evergreen Apartments. Lona says she felt someone touch her shoulders – and then she saw the Virgin Mary, who told her to turn and look at the wall. 

“And my mom, she was scared,” said daughter Sandy Alyais, who translated because Lona speaks Arabic but not English. “And my mom, she looked and she saw the oil.” 

At first it was just a little streak of oil on the bedroom wall – but it quickly spread, eventually reaching a second wall, the carpet and the mirror. The family believes it is the tears of the Holy Mother. 

And they’re not alone: Lona’s son Salwan Alyais told CTV News that around 300 people have come to see the oil in the last three weeks – and it’s getting busier.

“Mary said don’t let anyone touch the wall because they’re touching her face, and she doesn’t want people to touch her face,” he explained.

On day seven, the family says they also captured images of the Virgin Mary on the wall, appearing as a blue sparkling sheen where the oil first appeared. 

On Saturday, dozens of worshippers crowded into the tiny bedroom to pay homage. One mother doused her baby’s head with the oil; others close their eyes in prayer. 

“[My mother] feels okay and happy, and she says the Mary Mother told her the people come, the door is open, she don’t close, they will visit here and pray,” Lona’s daughter translated, noting that the Mary Mother wants people to pray for countries like Syria and Iraq. 

Experts have not been called in to examine the Surrey apartment, so there’s no scientific evidence this is a miracle. But there’s no question the oil has become a phenomenon.

“When you come to a place like this with faith, you feel like there’s something that really touches your heart – and it did touch my heart,” says one woman from Ontario who was praying for her ill sister. 

“You either believe or you don’t. If you have faith you do [believe], if you don’t then no matter what happens you don’t.” 

With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander