Weeping statue

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A weeping statue is a statue which has been claimed to have shed tears or to be weeping by supernatural means. Statues weeping tears which appear to be blood, oil, and scented liquids have all been reported. Other claimed phenomena are sometimes associated with weeping statues such as miraculous healing, the formation of figures in the tear lines, and the scent of roses. These events are generally reported by Catholics, and initially attract pilgrims, but are in most cases disallowed by the Church as proven hoaxes.

Weeping statue and Marian apparition[edit]

The weeping statue of Our Lady of Akita apparitions in Japan.

Reported weeping statues are most often sculptures of the Virgin Mary and are at times accompanied by claims of Marian apparitions. A notable example is the nature of the Our Lady of Akita apparitions that was unlike other cases, as the entire nation of Japan was supposedly able to view the statue of the Virgin Mary shed tears on national television.[1]

Hoaxes and skepticism[edit]

Authorities of the Catholic Church have been very careful in their approach and treatment of weeping statues, and generally set very high barriers for their acceptance. For instance when a statue of the popular Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina in Messina, Sicily, was found to have tears of blood one day in 2002, Church officials quickly ordered tests that showed the blood belonged to a woman and then dismissed the case as a hoax.[2][3]

Skeptics point to the fact that making a fake weeping statue is relatively easy. Skeptics have provided examples of weeping statues that have been obvious hoaxes.[4]

Weeping statues have also been dismissed by rationalists as a purely psychological and/or fraudulent phenomenon. The witnesses are said to be deluded by their own state of mind or strong group suggestion. In this altered state of mind, they believe they see something that isn't really there.[5]

Another likely explanation attributes the so-called tears to condensation. The tears that statues appear to weep are actually beads of condensation accounted for by the statue being made from material of varying density, with condensation forming on the denser (colder) pieces (in this case the eyes).

A number of weeping statues have been declared fake by Catholic church officials.[6][7][8][9]

In 1995, a Madonna statue appeared to weep blood in the town of Civitavecchia in Italy. About 60 witnesses testified to witnessing the phenomenon.[10] The local bishop said that he himself had seen it weep. The blood on the statue was later found to be male. The statue’s owner, Fabio Gregori, refused to take a DNA test. After the Civitavecchia case, dozens of reputedly miraculous statues were reported. Almost all were shown to be hoaxes, where blood, red paint, or water was splashed on the faces of the statues.[11]

In 2008, church custodian Vincenzo Di Costanzo went on trial in northern Italy for faking blood on a statue of the Virgin Mary when his own DNA was matched to the blood.[12]

In 2018, at the Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, New Mexico, a Mary statue was reported to be producing tears. In July of that year, the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces revealed that tests confirmed the tears in fact had the chemical composition of rose scented olive oil.[13][14]

List of weeping statues[edit]

Plutarch, in chapter 38 of his Life of Coriolanus, discusses the phenomenon of weeping and bleeding statues, with special reference to the case of a statue of Fortuna addressing a crowd in Rome.[15] According to Joe Nickell, "animated ones", or inanimate objects that are claimed to do things such as walking, changing facial expressions, or shedding tears, are most commonly statues in the Roman Catholic tradition.[14] In the Book of Daniel Chapter 14 verses 1-21 the story finds Daniel setting up a trap to catch priests who were sneaking into temples to eat the offerings left at the feet of the idol Bel, which was worshipped for its seeming ability to consume food and drink.[14]

A very small number of weeping statues have been recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, e.g. in Syracuse the shedding of tears from a statue in the house of a married couple (August 29, 1953) was recognized by the Catholic bishops of Sicily on December 13, 1953.[16] Chemist Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia, who has not examined the statue, which is behind glass, theorizes that the tears are due to capillary attraction with moisture seeping through a fault in the glaze of the plaster statue.[17]

The following is a list of the more publicized claims. The veracity of these claims is difficult to establish and many have been declared hoaxes by Church officials.

Date Location Claims Reference
10 and 25 November 1643 Rottweil, Germany Our Lady of the Turning Eyes — tears, changing complexion, speaking, moving head from heaven to earth. Witnessed by at least 42 citizens. [18]
1953 Syracuse, Sicily, Italy human tears — verified by a team of scientists and then approved by local bishops[citation needed] [19]
16 March 1960 Hempstead, New York, United States tears of human from Icon of the Sorrowful Theotokos, first showing tears in house at Island Park, New York at house of Peter and Pagona Catsounis. Brought to St. Paul Greek Orthodox Cathedral to show the priest, later considered to be a "Sign of Divine Providence" by Ecumenical Patriarchate [20][21]
April 1992 Lake Ridge, Virginia, United States Catholic associate pastor is claimed to cause statues of the Virgin Mary to weep tears or blood. [22]
1980 Pavia, Italy Claimed to weep real tears, shown to be fraudulent as statue owner applied the tears with a water gun. [14]
February 1995 Civitavecchia, Italy statue of Our Lady, bought in Medjugorje, tears of blood [23][24]
April 1997 till present Platina, Brazil statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sheds a red liquid - unverified [25]
March 2002 Messina, Italy statue of Pio of Pietrelcina shed a red liquid, but was rejected by the Vatican [26][27]
September 2002 Rockingham, Australia wept scented tears, apparitions, accepted. [28][29][30]
February 2003 Chittagong, Bangladesh unverified [31]
September 2004 Baalbek, Lebanon appearance of scented oil, blinked and claimed a cure — not verified [32]
November 2005 Sacramento, California, United States tears of blood, called a hoax on the Paula Zahn TV show [33]
March 2006 onwards Kerala, India tears of blood, appearance of oil, honey, milk — not verified [34]
January 2006 till present Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta tears of blood, appearance of oil, salt - unverified, self-published claims [35]
November 2010 Windsor, Ontario, Canada appearance of oil, "smiles during the day" and excreted oil claimed to heal - please see the article Windsor, Ontario weeping statue for more information [36]
July 2012 Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States appearance of dripping blood from hairline [37]
October 2012 Tanauan, Batangas, Philippines appearance of blood in face, and excretes oil in palm in the statue of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, the blood eventually revealed to be from a person of blood type O. It is also reported that several Marian images also weep blood in their home - Currently under investigation by the Archdiocese of Lipa [38]
May 2015 Barangay Liloan, Catarman, Camiguin, Philippines Traces of alleged blood were found near the eyes of an image of Mary inside the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel in Barangay Liloan in Catarman, Camiguin Tuesday morning, local residents said. Residents were also surprised to see that the image's hands were unclasped. Church administrators have yet to determine whether the image really cried blood. [39]
August 2018 Pásztó, Hungary Realistic human tears dripping down for more than 3 months, with additional red circles around eyes. Source not yet determined. [40]
July and September 2018 Hobbs, New Mexico, United States Our Lady of Guadalupe weeping tears of olive oil. Currently under investigation by the Diocese of Las Cruses. [41]

Weeping paintings[edit]

Weeping paintings or icons are a related phenomenon, but to date not a single case of a weeping painting has been approved either by the Roman Catholic or Coptic churches and most instances have turned out to be hoaxes. However, in Eastern Orthodoxy, some cases such as a weeping St Michael icon in Rhodes have been taken as miraculous. [2]

As with weeping statues, the tears exuded are often said to be of a substance which appears to be similar to blood. A painting of the Virgin Mary is said to have exuded moisture from the eyes and the fingers at St. Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church in Chicago on December 6, 1986.[42] The event gained international attention and drew many onlookers to the church.[43] The moisture ceased in July 1987, but resumed a year later at which time 19 other icons were said to have also started weeping after being "anointed" with the painting's moisture.[44] A painting of Mary on plywood was said to have wept on March 10, 1992 in Barberton, Ohio;[45] annual pilgrimages celebrating the event were still in practice as late as 2002.[46] Another painting of the Virgin Mary which drew many visitors to Christ of the Hills Monastery near Blanco, Texas in the 1980s was said to weep myrrh, but was uncovered as a fraud in the 2000s.[47][48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Everything Mary Book: The Life and Legacy of the Blessed Mother by Jenny Schroedel, John Schroedel 2006 ISBN 1-59337-713-4 page 137-138
  2. ^ Weeping statue of Padre Pio
  3. ^ Church rules out Padre Pio tears
  4. ^ Hoaxes exposed
  5. ^ Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. pp. 56-57. ISBN 1-57392-680-9
  6. ^ YouTube on fake statue [www.youtube.com/watch?v=57e9OMZlghY]
  7. ^ Fake statues
  8. ^ "Fake Rockingham statue". Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  9. ^ Fake Statue article
  10. ^ The Guardian
  11. ^ Catholic News on Fake Weeping Statue
  12. ^ "Court Trial for Fake Statue". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  13. ^ Radford, Benjamin (September–October 2018). "Small Town Virgin Mary 'Miracle': Olive Oil". Skeptical Inquirer. 42 (5).
  14. ^ a b c d Nickell, Joe (10 September 2018). "Weeping-Eye Cons". Center for Inquiry. CFI. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Plutarch • Life of Coriolanus".
  16. ^ Sicily statues Bäumer Marienlexikon, p.398
  17. ^ Connor, Steve. "Science debunks miracle of weeping Madonna", Independent, July 9, 1995
  18. ^ Stöffelmaier, Martin. "Geschichte vom wunderbaren Blickwechsel berührt Maria von der Augenwende - Was haben wir im Sinn?" (in German). Parish of the Holy Cross. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  19. ^ Bandini, Marinella (May 5, 2016). "Trail of Tears: A Relic Like No Other Visits the Vatican". Aleteia.
  20. ^ "Hempstead NY Weeping Icons at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church". Visions of Jesus Christ.
  21. ^ "Cathedral History". Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul Hempstead, NY. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  22. ^ Pressley, Sue Ann. "Treading softly into the matter of miracles", The Washington Post, April 5, 1992
  23. ^ Kirsta, Alix (December 9, 2000). "The Crying Game". Alix Kirsta.
  24. ^ "Statue of Our Lady in Civitavecchia weeping tears of blood". Medjugorje. December 8, 2006.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ "Italian statue 'weeps blood'". BBC. March 6, 2002.
  27. ^ Owen, Richard (September 9, 2005). "Church says 'miracle' tears are wrong sex". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on September 18, 2011.
  28. ^ "Mystery of Australia's weeping Madonna". BBC. September 13, 2002.
  29. ^ Spagnolo, Joe (December 25, 2005). "New claims over weeping Madonna". News.com.au. Archived from the original on December 27, 2005.
  30. ^ Kelly, Jim (April 30, 2007). "Police close madonna probe". News.com.au. Archived from the original on May 2, 2007.
  31. ^ Lawson, Alastair (February 18, 2003). "Bangladeshis flock to 'weeping Virgin'". BBC.
  32. ^ al-Ali, Morshed (September 7, 2004). "Miracles draw crowds to Ras Baalbek". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on September 15, 2004.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-09-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "Miracles of rosa mystica ( St. Mary )". Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  35. ^ "The Statue weeps tears of blood once again". Borg in-Nadur. Archived from the original on August 15, 2010.
  36. ^ "'Weeping' Virgin Mary statue draws hundreds of worshippers to Windsor residence". windsorstar.com. Archived from the original on 2010-11-05.
  37. ^ Stegall, Amber (July 6, 2012). "Witness: Mother Mary statue bleeding in Baton Rouge". WAFB9.
  38. ^ "Imahen ng Birheng Maria, lumuluha umano ng dugo at may tumatagas na langis sa mukha at palad". Youtube. October 25, 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13.
  39. ^ Andrade, Angelo (May 27, 2015). "LOOK: Image of Mary 'cries blood'". ABS-CBN News.
  40. ^ Kolozsi, Adam (October 8, 2017). "It was a miracle, the sculptures began to cry". Index (in Hungarian).
  41. ^ "Virgin Mary statue in Hobbs reportedly 'weeping' again". Las Cruces Sun News. September 4, 2018.
  42. ^ Rotzoll, Brenda Warner. (2001-07-15) "Other images have captured attention". The Chicago Sun-Times, p. 27.
  43. ^ Fremon, David K. (1988). Chicago Politics, Ward by Ward. Indian University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-253-31344-9..
  44. ^ Moran, Mark; Troy Taylor; Mark Sceurman (2005). Weird Illinois: Your Travel Guide to Illinois' Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 68. ISBN 0-7607-5943-X.
  45. ^ Pohlen, Jerome (2004). Oddball Ohio: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places. Chicago Review Press. p. 59. ISBN 1-55652-523-0.
  46. ^ Jenkins, Colette M. (2002-03-02) "Church celebrates anniversary of apparition." Akron Beacon Journal, page A12.
  47. ^ AP. (2007-09-20) Samuel Greene Jr., 63; Texas monk accused of abuse LA Times. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
  48. ^ UPI. (2006-08-12) Texas to seize embattled monastery upi.com. Retrieved 2008-09-01.

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