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Weeping statues

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 as hoaxes.

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 hoaxes.

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 Unpublished reports of the testing have supposedly been able to verify this theory, but peer reviewed scientific research is rarely, if ever, carried out into the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 statues.

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.[13] 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.

Date Location Claims Reference
1949 Syracuse, New York human tears — unverified
June 1985 Naju, South Korea tears of human blood, rejected by local bishop Catholic News
April 1997 till present Platina, Brazil statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sheds a red liquid - unverified
March 2002 Messina, Sicily statue of Pio of Pietrelcina shed a red liquid, but was rejected by the Vatican
September 2002 Rockingham, Australia wept scented tears, apparitions, declared as fake
February 2003 Chittagong, Bangladesh unverified
September 2004 Baalbek, Lebanon appearance of scented oil, blinked and claimed a cure — not verified
November 2005 Sacramento, California tears of blood, called a hoax on the Paula Zahn TV show
March 2006 onwards Kerala, India 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 San_Frangisk_t_Assisi.jpg

Mystical Stigmata

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.

Facts

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
 
Our Lady of Fátima
Location Fátima, Portugal
Date 13 May—13 October 1917
Witness Lúcia Santos
Jacinta and Francisco Marto
Type Marian apparition
Holy See approval 1930, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI
Shrine Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima

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.[citation needed] 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 at all.

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 Santos (left) with her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, 1917

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 church's hierarchy.

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.[citation needed] 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.

Shroud of Turin


Click to view entire shroud enlarged (hi-res image).

The section of the shroud showing the face reveals dramatic features
when viewed as negative image (click on the right image to enlarge).

Shroud of Turin - What is it?
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth believed by some to have covered the buried body of Jesus Christ. Accounts of Jesus' followers wrapping his body with a linen cloth are mentioned in all four gospels (
Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:40). The shroud, which has a known history dating back to 1353, is about 14-feet long by four feet wide. It is called the Shroud of Turin because it permanently resides in the city of Turin, Italy, though on occasion it is exhibited elsewhere.

The shroud bears markings that appear to be front and back impressions of a crucified man. Apparently, the cloth was folded over itself, one half above the man, the other half below. Interestingly, the man's wounds are consistent with the wounds inflicted upon Jesus during the torture He endured leading up to His crucifixion. There appear to be wounds around the hairline, matching the biblical description of the crown of thorns. Several small stripe-like wounds extend from the shoulders to the lower legs, matching the biblical description of His torture by whipping. There is also a wound in the area of the chest, which matches the description of the piercing wound inflicted on Jesus shortly after His death.

Shroud of Turin - Expert Explanation
What do experts think about the Shroud of Turin? That depends on who you ask. Some experts consider the Shroud of Turin to be authentic, while others believe that it is a rather sophisticated hoax. A few people have even claimed that the shroud was never intended to be anything more than a work of art. This explanation doesn't seem probable because of the shroud's unique design, a style that had never been observed in any previous major work of art. This fact leads most experts to conclude that the shroud is either authentic or it is purposely designed to look as if it is authentic.

The major critique against the shroud's authenticity is based on carbon dating tests. The tests predict that the shroud is not much more than 700 years old, which would place its origin during the 1300s, making it much too young to have been Jesus' burial cloth. Other scholars suggest that this date might be skewed because the shroud's fibers are soiled with microscopic bacteria and fungi, which have developed for hundreds of years. They believe that the presence of these objects make the shroud test at least a thousand years younger than it really is. There are, however, a growing number of scientists who consider both of these arguments moot because of what they claim to be a lack of reliability in the carbon dating method.

Shroud skeptics also charge that the facial and bodily features of the man are out of proportion. However, other experts argue that many people have certain physical features that are disproportionate.

There are literally dozens of arguments for and against the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. These contradicting claims may lead the casual observer to conclude that there exists a scientific stalemate concerning the shroud, and that does seem to be the case. So what should we believe about the Shroud of Turin?

Unfortunately, when presented with opposing opinions in a debate related to Christianity, the casual observer tends to accept the non-christian point of view because he believes that it is less influenced by religion, and thus more scientific. However, non-christian scholars often seek to disprove the Christian point of view as fervently as Christian scholars seek to support it. So the non-christian point of view is often very biased. A case in point is the recent discovery of an ancient bone box inscribed with the following message in Aramaic: James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. When news of this finding was made public, some scholars, seeking to downplay the historicity of the Christian faith, declared the box a hoax even before they had seen it.

The truth is, no one can say with any degree of certainty that the Shroud of Turin is real or a hoax. The best we can do is analyze all the information, and then decide for ourselves.

Shroud of Turin - The Reality
Sadly, the never-ending debate about the Shroud of Turin is concerned only with its authenticity. In reality, it matters little whether or not the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Either way, the shroud is simply a cloth made of linen. Unfortunately, many people have been misled into thinking that the shroud is in some way sacred, and have thus tied much of their faith to its authenticity. This is a mistake. No matter its origin, the shroud deserves neither our worship nor reverence. Assuming its authenticity certainly makes it a significant part of Christian history, but nothing more.

Jesus lived a perfect life, He died for the sins of mankind, He was raised from the dead, and then He ascended into heaven. By
accepting him as Lord and Savior by grace through faith we are forgiven. Christians don't base these beliefs on the Shroud of Turin or any other ancient artifact. Rather, Christians accept these things because of a belief in the truthfulness of the Bible.

The debate over the Shroud of Turin does remind us of one very important point, though. That is, the historicity of the Christian faith. Christianity is not just a set of rules by which Christians govern their lives. It's a relationship with a real God who entered human history as a mortal man, and died so that we might have everlasting life.

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