A weeping statue is a statue which has been claimed to be shedding tears or weeping by supernatural means. Statues weeping tears of a substance which appears to be human 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 some Christians, and initially attract some pilgrims, but are in most cases disallowed by the upper levels of the Church or proven
Reported weeping statues are most often of the Virgin Mary and are at times accompanied by claims of Marian apparitions. However, to date only one single example of a combined weeping statue and apparition (namely Our Lady of Akita) has been approved by the Vatican and the rest have usually been dismissed as hoaxes. An unusual nature of the Our Lady of Akita apparitions was that unlike other cases the entire nation of Japan was able to view the tears of the statue of the
Virgin Mary on national television.
Hoaxes and skepticism
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 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.Even at the local level, Catholic priests have expelled people
who claim weeping statues from their local Church.
Skeptics, point to the fact that making a fake weeping statue is relatively easy. At some skeptic conferences "do
it yourself weeping statue kits" are on sale now.Skeptics have provided examples of weeping statues that have been obvious
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.
Another possible explanation attributes the so-called tears to condensation. The tears that statues appear to weep
are said to actually be beads of condensation from microscopic cracks on the surface of the statues. Unpublished reports of
the testing have supposedly been able to verify this theory, but peer reviewed scientific research is rarely, if ever, carried
out into the phenomenon.
A number of weeping statues have been declared fake by Catholic church officials.
In 1995, a Madonna statue appeared to weep blood in the town of Civitavecchia in Italy. 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
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
List of weeping statues
A very small number of weeping statues have been recognized by the Catholic Church, e.g. in Syracuse Sicily the
1949 shedding of tears from a statue was recognized by the Catholic bishops of Sicily on August 29, 1953. Our Lady of Akita was declared as worthy of belief by the Holy Office in 1988, and remains the only weeping statue recognized by the Holy Office.
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.
||Syracuse, New York
||human tears — unverified
||Naju, South Korea
||tears of human blood, rejected by local bishop
|April 1997 till present
||statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sheds a red liquid - unverified
||statue of Pio of Pietrelcina shed a red liquid, but was rejected by the Vatican
||wept scented tears, apparitions, declared as fake
||appearance of scented oil, blinked and claimed a cure — not verified
||tears of blood, called a hoax on the Paula Zahn TV show
|March 2006 onwards
||tears of blood, appearance of oil, honey, milk — not verified
|January 2006 till present
||Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta,
||tears of blood, appearance of oil, salt - unverified, self published claims|The Statue weeps tears of blood
To decide merely the facts without deciding whether or not they may be explained by supernatural causes, history tells
us that many ecstatics bear on hands, feet, side, or brow the marks of the Passion of Christ with corresponding and intense
sufferings. These are called visible stigmata. Others only have the sufferings, without any outward marks, and these phenomena
are called invisible stigmata.
With many stigmatics these apparitions were periodical, e.g., St. Catherine de' Ricci, whose ecstasies of the Passion began
when she was twenty (1542), and the Bull of her canonization states that for twelve years they recurred with minute regularity.
The ecstasy lasted exactly twenty-eight hours, from Thursday noon till Friday afternoon at four o'clock, the only interruption
being for the saint to receive Holy Communion. Catherine conversed aloud, as if enacting a drama. This drama was divided into
about seventeen scenes. On coming out of the ecstasy the saint's limbs were covered with wounds produced by whips, cords etc.
1. None are known prior to the thirteenth century. The first mentioned is St. Francis of Assisi, in whom the stigmata were
of a character never seen subsequently; in the wounds of feet and hands were excrescences of flesh representing nails, those
on one side having round back heads, those on the other having rather long points, which bent back and grasped the skin. The
saint's humility could not prevent a great many of his brethren beholding with their own eyes the existence of these wonderful
wounds during his lifetime as well as after his death. The fact is attested by a number of contemporary historians, and the
feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis is kept on 17 September.
2. There are 62 saints or blessed of both sexes of whom the best known were:
•St. Francis of Assisi (1186-1226) •St. Lutgarde (1182-1246) •St. Margaret of Cortona (1247-97) •St.
Gertrude (1256-1302) •St. Clare of Montefalco (1268-1308) •Bl. Angela of Foligno (d. 1309) •St. Catherine
of Siena (1347-80) •St. Lidwine (1380-1433) •St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440) •St. Colette (1380-1447) •St.
Rita of Cassia (1386-1456) •Bl. Osanna of Mantua (1499-1505) •St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) •Bl. Baptista
Varani (1458-1524) •Bl. Lucy of Narni (1476-1547) •Bl. Catherine of Racconigi (1486-1547) •St. John of God
(1495-1550) •St. Catherine de' Ricci (1522-89) •St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi (1566-1607) •Bl. Marie de l'Incarnation
(1566-1618) •Bl. Mary Anne of Jesus (1557-1620) •Bl. Carlo of Sezze (d. 1670) •Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque
(1647-90) •St. Veronica Giuliani (1600-1727) •St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds (1715-91) •Marie-Julie
Jahenny (1850-1941) •St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) (1887-1968)
3. There were 20 stigmatics in the nineteenth century. The most famous were: •Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) •Elizabeth
Canori Mora (1774-1825) •Anna Maria Taïgi (1769-1837) •Maria Dominica Lazzari (1815-48) •Marie de Moerl
(1812-68) and Louise Lateau (1850-83)
Of these, Marie de Moerl spent her life at Kaltern, Tyrol (1812-68). At the age of twenty she became an ecstatic, and ecstasy
was her habitual condition for the remaining thirty-five years of her life. She emerged from it only at the command, sometimes
only mental, of the Franciscan who was her director, and to attend to the affairs of her house, which sheltered a large family.
Her ordinary attitude was kneeling on her bed with hands crossed on her breast, and an expression of countenance which deeply
impressed spectators. At twenty-two she received the stigmata. On Thursday evening and Friday these stigmata shed very clear
blood, drop by drop, becoming dry on the other days. Thousands of persons saw Marie de Moerl, among them Görres (who describes
his visit in his "Mystik" II, xx), Wiseman, and Lord Shrewsbury, who wrote a defence of the ecstatic in his letters published
by "The Morning Herald" and "The Tablet" (cf. Boré, op. cit. infra).
Louise Lateau spent her life in the village of Bois d'Haine, Belgium (1850-83). The graces she received were disputed even
by some Catholics, who as a general thing relied on incomplete or erroneous information, as has been established by Canon
Thiery ("Examen de ce qui concerne Bois d'Haine", Louvain, 1907). At sixteen she devoted herself to nursing the cholera victims
of her parish, who were abandoned by most of the inhabitants. Within a month she nursed ten, buried them, and in more than
one instance bore them to the cemetery. At eighteen she became an ecstatic and stigmatic, which did not prevent her supporting
her family by working as a seamstress. Numerous physicians witnessed her painful Friday ecstasies and established the fact
that for twelve years she took no nourishment save weekly communion. For drink she was satisfied with three or four glasses
of water a week. She never slept, but passed her nights in contemplation and prayer, kneeling at the foot of her bed.
Our Lady of Fátima
On 13 May 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were tending sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima in Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays
of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of
the sun." Further appearances are reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these,
the woman exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause pain,
abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance. Most importantly, Lúcia said that the lady
had asked them to pray the rosary every day, repeating many times that the rosary was the key to personal and world peace. This had particular resonance
since many Portuguese men, including relatives of the visionaries, were then fighting in World War I.According to Lúcia's account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets,
now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.
Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the ensuing months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles.
On 13 August 1917, the provincial administrator and anticlerical Freemason, Artur Santos(no relation), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they
could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children,
while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary. The administrator interrogated
the children and unsuccessfully attempted to get them to divulge the content of the secrets. In the process, he tried to convince
the children that he would boil them one by one in a pot of oil unless they confessed. The children, however, resisted. That
month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary
on 19 August at nearby Valinhos.
Photograph taken during the reputed "Dance of the Sun" at Fatima on 13 October 1917.
As early as July 1917 it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions
on 13 October, so that all would believe. What transpired became known as "Miracle of the Sun". A crowd believed to be approximately 70,000 in number,including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered
at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun such
that it could be looked upon without hurting the eyes. Lúcia called out to the crowd to look at the sun. Sometime while Lucia was pointing towards the sun and claiming
to have visions of various religious figures in the sky, it is believed that the sun appeared to change colors and to rotate
like a fire wheel. Then it seemed as though the sun would crash down to earth. For some the sun appeared to fall from the
sky before retreating, for others it zig-zagged. The phenomenon is claimed to have been witnessed by most people in the crowd
as well as people many miles away. While the crowd was staring at the sun, Lucia, Francesco, and Jacinta were staring at a
lovely sight. A picture of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph... the holy family.
Columnist Avelino de Almeida of O Século (Portugal's most influential newspaper, which was pro-government in policy and avowedly anti-clerical),reported the following:
"Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky,
the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression
of the people." Eye specialist Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the newspaper Ordem reported "The sun, at one
moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceeding fast and
whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat".
The special reporter for the 17 October 1917 edition of the Lisbon daily, O Dia, reported the following, "...the silver
sun, enveloped in the same gauzy purple light was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds...The light turned
a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who
knelt with outstretched hands...people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited.
The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."
Chapel of Apparitions, built at the place where the Fatima apparitions were reported
No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was registered by scientists at the time. According to contemporary
reports from poet Afonso Lopes Vieira and schoolteacher Delfina Lopes with her students and other witnesses in the town of
Alburita, the solar phenomenon were visible from up to forty kilometers away. Despite these assertions, not all witnesses
reported seeing the sun "dance". Some people only saw the radiant colors, and others, including some believers, saw nothing
Since no scientifically verifiable physical cause can be adduced to support the phenomenon of the sun, various
explanations have been advanced to explain the descriptions given by numerous witnesses. A leading conjecture is a mass hallucination
possibly stimulated by the religious fervor of the crowds expectantly waiting for a predicted sign. Another conjecture is
a possible visual artifact caused by looking at the sun for a prolonged period. As noted by Professor Auguste Meessen of the
Institute of Physics, Catholic University of Leuven, looking directly at the Sun can cause phosphene visual artifacts and temporary partial blindness. He has proposed that the reported observations were optical effects
caused by prolonged staring at the sun. Meessen contends that retinal after-images produced after brief periods of sun gazing
are a likely cause of the observed dancing effects. Similarly Meessen states that the colour changes witnessed were most likely
caused by the bleaching of photosensitive retinal cells. Meessen observes that sun miracles have been witnessed in many places
where religiously charged pilgrims have been encouraged to stare at the sun. He cites the apparitions at Heroldsbach, Germany
(1949) as an example, where exactly the same optical effects as at Fatima were witnessed by more than 10,000 people. There
is, however, no agreement regarding the most-likely physical cause for such a visual phenomenon. A mass hallucination is more
typically found among small groups rather than 70,000 people. Visual artifacts are commonly reported among large groups witnessing
solar eclipses without eye protection, but these reports bear no resemblance to the descriptions at Fatima. The alleged apparition
at Heroldsbach Franconia was investigated by the Catholic Church and was not approved.
Fate of the three children
Lúcia reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at the Dorothean convent at Pontevedra, Galicia (Spain). This time she said she was asked to convey the message of the First Saturday Devotions. By her account a subsequent vision of Christ as a child reiterated this request.
Lúcia was transferred to another convent in Tui or Tuy, Galicia in 1928. In 1929, Lúcia reported that Mary returned and repeated her request for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition
in Rianxo, Galicia, in 1931, in which she said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers and delivered a message to give to the
In 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite order in a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on 13 February 2005, at the age of 97. After her death, the Vatican, specifically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (at that time, still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations
and the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for her possible canonization.
Lúcia's cousins, the siblings Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-20. Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fatima on 13 May 1989. Pope John Paul II returned there on 13 May 2000
to declare them 'blessed' (a title of veneration below that of sainthood; see Canonization). Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.
In 1941, Lúcia claimed that the Virgin Mary had predicted the deaths of two of the children during the second apparition
on 13 June 1917. Some accounts, including the testimony of Olímpia Marto (mother of the two younger children) state that her
children did not keep this information secret and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to curious
pilgrims. According to the 1941 account, on 13 June, Lúcia asked the Virgin if the three children would go to heaven when
they died. She said that she heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Francisco and Jacinta soon, but you will remain a little
longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world
to my Immaculate Heart."
Exhumed in 1935 and again in 1951, Jacinta's face was found incorrupt. Francisco's body had decomposed.