JAMISON, Pa. (CBS) – The noon mass was supposed to be a busy one at St. Cyril of Jerusalem in Jamison, but instead of letting people in, the Roman Catholic church had to turn them away.
“They wouldn’t let me in,” said Marie Williams, a parishioner at the church.
During the morning mass, a teenager fainted in the middle of the service. No one panicked. Yet.
“Every once in a while, someone faints in church. We take them to the back and make sure they’re ok,” said Monsignor Robert Powell.
But then a second person fainted. And a third. Church leaders called 911, as even more parishioners felt light-headed and dizzy. Something was very wrong.
“We all saw emergency crews all over the place,” said parishioner Andy Louis, “and we weren’t allowed to come near the area.”
Emergency crews raced to the scene to find the cause of the problem and make sure everyone was safe. But as they entered the church to help, many started suffering the same symptoms.
“Nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, headaches — those sorts of things,” said Warwick Township police Lt. Mark Goldberg.
In all, six parishioners and about twelve police officers, firefighters, and medics went to nearby hospitals for treatment. But they were not any closer to finding the cause.
“The hazmat team went in to test the church, but they found no elevated levels of whatever they can test for,” said Lt. Goldberg.
Authorities said no one suffered any serious injuries or effects. And the church, intent on holding services on epiphany, moved everyone outside.
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Reported by Mike Dougherty, KYW Newsradio; Oren Leibermann, CBS 3