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

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

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 is not 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 1985, a statue in Montreal was reported to be weeping and bleeding, however it turned out that the statue was smeared with the owner's blood and shaving cream.[10]

In 1995, a Madonna statue appeared to weep blood in the town of Civitavecchia in Italy. About 60 witnesses testified to witnessing the phenomenon.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14][15]

List of weeping statues

The miraculous weeping statue of the Virgin Mary in Syracuse

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.[16] 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.[15] 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.[15]

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 Virgin Mary statue in the house of a married couple (29 August 1953) was recognized by the Catholic bishops of Sicily on 13 December 1953.[17] 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.[18]

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. [19]
1953 Syracuse, Sicily, Italy human tears — approved by local bishops [20]
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 [21][22]
April 1992 Lake Ridge, Virginia, United States Catholic associate pastor is claimed to cause statues of the Virgin Mary to weep tears or blood. [23]
1980 Pavia, Italy Claimed to weep real tears, shown to be fraudulent as statue owner applied the tears with a water gun. [15]
February 1995 Civitavecchia, Italy statue of Our Lady, bought in Medjugorje, tears of blood [24][25]
April 1997 till present Platina, Brazil statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart sheds a red liquid - unverified [26]
March 2002 Messina, Italy statue of Pio of Pietrelcina shed a red liquid, but was rejected by the Vatican [27][28]
September 2002 Rockingham, Australia wept scented tears, apparitions, accepted. [29][30][31]
February 2003 Chittagong, Bangladesh unverified [32]
September 2004 Baalbek, Lebanon appearance of scented oil, blinked and claimed a cure — not verified [33]
November 2005 Sacramento, California, United States tears of blood, called a hoax on the Paula Zahn TV show [34]
March 2006 onwards Kerala, India tears of blood, appearance of oil, honey, milk — not verified [35]
January 2006 till present Borġ in-Nadur, Birżebbuġa, Malta tears of blood, appearance of oil, salt - unverified, self-published claims [36]
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 [37]
July 2012 Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States appearance of dripping blood from hairline [38]
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 [39]
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. [40]
March 2016 Trevignano, Lazio, Italy The statue of the Virgin Mary is reported to weep blood every third day of the month [41]
August 2018 Pásztó, Hungary Realistic human tears dripping down for more than 3 months, with additional red circles around eyes. Source not yet determined. [42]
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 Cruces. [43]
August 2020 Carmiano, Apulia, Italy The statue of the Virgin Mary would have oozed a reddish liquid [44]

Weeping paintings

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.[45]

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 6 December 1986.[46] The event gained international attention and drew many onlookers to the church.[47] 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.[48] Church authorities refused to allow the "tears" to be analysed by chemists.[10] A painting of Mary on plywood was said to have wept on 10 March 1992 in Barberton, Ohio;[49] annual pilgrimages celebrating the event were still in practice as late as 2002.[50] 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.[51][52]

Other similar phenomena

Image of the Señor de las Tribulaciones in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a figure to whom a "miraculous sweating" was attributed in 1795.
Image of the Holy Christ of the Agony in Limpias, Spain, which flowed real blood.

In addition to the shedding of tears, throughout history there have been reports of religious images that have emitted similar or related phenomena, such as "sweating" phenomena, or the emanation of oil, blood, water, or other substances, including honey.

A particularly famous case of its time was the phenomenon that occurred in the spring of 1795 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain). A representation of a bust of Jesus Christ, locally invoked as the Señor de las Tribulaciones, who began to "sweat" when he was transferred to the home of a wealthy family in the city to cure the family matriarch of an illness.[53][54]

Another similar case of "miraculous sweating" that also occurred on the Spanish island of Tenerife is that of the picture or painting of Saint John the Evangelist venerated in the parish church of La Concepción de San Cristóbal de La Laguna. The phenomenon occurred during an epidemic of bubonic plague that hit the island in 1648.[54]

More recent cases include; an image of Christ crucified in Tucumán, Argentina, which flowed a reddish liquid, identified as blood, through the Five Holy Wounds in 2011,[55] or the case in Brazil, of an image of the Virgin of Fátima that exudes oil and honey from 1993 to the present.[56]

See also


  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 19 July 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  9. ^ Fake Statue article
  10. ^ a b Randi, James (1995). An encyclopedia of claims, frauds, and hoaxes of the occult and supernatural: decidedly sceptical definitions of alternative realities. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-15119-5.
  11. ^ "Weekend: The weeping Madonna of Civitavecchia". The Guardian. 9 December 2000. Archived from the original on 8 June 2023.
  12. ^ Catholic News on Fake Weeping Statue
  13. ^ "Court Trial for Fake Statue". Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  14. ^ Radford, Benjamin (September–October 2018). "Small Town Virgin Mary 'Miracle': Olive Oil". Skeptical Inquirer. 42 (5).
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Plutarch • Life of Coriolanus".
  17. ^ Sicily statues Bäumer Marienlexikon, p.398
  18. ^ "Science debunks miracle of weeping madonna". The Independent. 8 July 1995. Retrieved 31 March 2024.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Bandini, Marinella (5 May 2016). "Trail of Tears: A Relic Like No Other Visits the Vatican". Aleteia.
  21. ^ "Hempstead NY Weeping Icons at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church". Visions of Jesus Christ.
  22. ^ "Cathedral History". Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul Hempstead, NY. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  23. ^ Pressley, Sue Ann. "Treading softly into the matter of miracles", The Washington Post, 5 April 1992
  24. ^ Kirsta, Alix (9 December 2000). "The Crying Game". Alix Kirsta.
  25. ^ "Statue of Our Lady in Civitavecchia weeping tears of blood". Medjugorje. 8 December 2006.
  26. ^ "Our Lady of Platina". christiano-jabur.blogspot.com. 2003.
  27. ^ "Italian statue 'weeps blood'". BBC. 6 March 2002.
  28. ^ Owen, Richard (9 September 2005). "Church says 'miracle' tears are wrong sex". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011.
  29. ^ "Mystery of Australia's weeping Madonna". BBC. 13 September 2002.
  30. ^ Spagnolo, Joe (25 December 2005). "New claims over weeping Madonna". News.com.au. Archived from the original on 27 December 2005.
  31. ^ Kelly, Jim (30 April 2007). "Police close madonna probe". News.com.au. Archived from the original on 2 May 2007.
  32. ^ Lawson, Alastair (18 February 2003). "Bangladeshis flock to 'weeping Virgin'". BBC.
  33. ^ al-Ali, Morshed (7 September 2004). "Miracles draw crowds to Ras Baalbek". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 15 September 2004.
  34. ^ "Tears Of Blood Appear On Virgin Mary Statue". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  35. ^ "Miracles of rosa mystica ( St. Mary )". Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  36. ^ "The Statue weeps tears of blood once again". Borg in-Nadur. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010.
  37. ^ "'Weeping' Virgin Mary statue draws hundreds of worshippers to Windsor residence". windsorstar.com. Archived from the original on 5 November 2010.
  38. ^ Stegall, Amber (6 July 2012). "Witness: Mother Mary statue bleeding in Baton Rouge". WAFB9.
  39. ^ "Imahen ng Birheng Maria, lumuluha umano ng dugo at may tumatagas na langis sa mukha at palad". Youtube. 25 October 2012. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021.
  40. ^ Andrade, Angelo (27 May 2015). "LOOK: Image of Mary 'cries blood'". ABS-CBN News.
  41. ^ "Madonna di Trevignano che piange: la chiesa indagherà sul fenomeno". Fanpage (in Italian). Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  42. ^ Kolozsi, Adam (8 October 2017). "It was a miracle, the sculptures began to cry". Index (in Hungarian).
  43. ^ "Virgin Mary statue in Hobbs reportedly 'weeping' again". Las Cruces Sun News. 4 September 2018.
  44. ^ "«La Madonna piange sangue» preghiere intorno alla statua a Carmiano". La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno (in Italian). 5 August 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  45. ^ "ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY THEN AND NOW". Retrieved 31 March 2024.
  46. ^ Rotzoll, Brenda Warner. (2001-07-15) "Other images have captured attention". The Chicago Sun-Times, p. 27.
  47. ^ Fremon, David K. (1988). Chicago Politics, Ward by Ward. Indian University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-253-31344-9..
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Pohlen, Jerome (2004). Oddball Ohio: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places. Chicago Review Press. p. 59. ISBN 1-55652-523-0.
  50. ^ Jenkins, Colette M. (2002-03-02) "Church celebrates anniversary of apparition." Akron Beacon Journal, page A12.
  51. ^ Archives, L. A. Times (20 September 2007). "Samuel Greene Jr., 63; Texas monk accused of abuse". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 March 2024.
  52. ^ "Texas to seize embattled monastery - UPI.com". UPI. Retrieved 31 March 2024.
  53. ^ "El Toscal recuerda hoy el milagro del Señor de las Tribulaciones". El Día (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  54. ^ a b "Tenerife, territorio para los prodigios y el milagro". Diario de Avisos (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  55. ^ "Escultura de Jesús en la cruz derrama sangre humana". El Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  56. ^ "¿Una Virgen que llora aceite y miel?". Aleteia (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2024.

Further reading