People believe whatever they want to believe, based on supposition, rumor, happenstance, and gossip. When even the priest doesn't believe it, his parishioners still do - even if they have to make shit up to believe.
“I think the dirt gets blessed by the priests, doesn’t it?”Uh, no. Tens of thousands of people come to a shrine for "healing" dirt that the priest buys and has trucked in so that everyone can have a little holy mud in their reliquaries.
As a piece of journalism, though, the story is clearly thought, well written, and pithily illustrative.