Wendy Golini has a reputation as boisterous conversationalist, a reputation well known to the customers at her Cedar Perk restaurant on West Emerson Street in Melrose, but when she recently saw an image of Mother Teresa on her cutting board at the restaurant, Golini said she only shared it with a few friends.

Wendy Golini has a reputation as boisterous conversationalist, but when she recently saw an image of Mother Teresa on her cutting board at the restaurant, Golini said she only shared it with a few friends.

a reputation well known to the customers at her Cedar Perk restaurant on West Emerson Street in Melrose,

“I don’t want to be the crazy lady who saw something,” said Golini, who owns Cedar Perk, a Melrose restaurant.

The morning the image appeared, Golini said she’d been praying, particularly imploring Mother Teresa for help with tribulations relating to Golini and her friends and family. Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who died in 1997, spent her life ministering to the destitute, particularly in the slums of Calcutta, India, where she founded the Missionaries of Charity.

Golini said she then looked down, saw the image in the cutting board and stood and stared — “Like I was afraid to move” — and began to cry, drawing the attention of others in the restaurant who were similarly taken aback by the image.

Golini then decided to post a photo of the image on her personal Facebook account, which is set to private and only visible to her friends. From there, “it started to snowball,” she said, with word spreading quickly, leading to e-mail inquiries from the press.

Curiosity about Golini’s image culminated when a television crew appeared at Cedar Perk last week to interview her.

“All of a sudden at 11 a.m. [last Tuesday, Dec. 2] there’s news cameras here,” she said, laughing. “I went home and put on some eye shadow.”

Golini said she agreed to the interview and segment on WCVB because “when I thought it was going to get away from me, I took a little control and just put it out there.

“I’m not asking anybody to believe anything,” she said. “I just wanted to share the experience, so if there was one other person who felt the way I did that day and who wasn’t as strong or was about to lose their faith … well, I’ve gotten that.”

The cutting board is now displayed on a stand at Cedar Perk for people to see, and people are continuing to drop in to see it. However, Cedar Perk hasn’t gotten much busier, Golini said, nor have religious devotees flocked to the restaurant.

Is Golini concerned that some are accusing her of engineering this simply as a publicity stunt?

Golini replied that she found that idea “funny,” particularly in light of her now-public plans to sell Cedar Perk in January and move into a new, non-restaurant business while working on her long-held dream of starting a non-profit focused on child advocacy.

“For every snicker or smile I might see … I don’t care — as long as some people got something out of it,” she said. “I know that nobody likes to be outside of their religious or spiritual comfort zone. Nobody likes it to be pushed. I was forced outside of my comfort zone, but it’s about comfort. If this brings one person comfort, it’s worth it. It’s OK if I’m uncomfortable.”

“I was trying to get out quietly,” Golini said. “I’m not driving this; I’m letting it drive itself.”

Melrose Free Press