Weeping Statues

A pious believer attempts to be healed by a statue.

THE PHENOMENON OF weeping or crying religious statues is one of the oldest and most stereotypical images of holy powers in Catholicism. Ireland, South America and southern Europe all have well documented accounts of Virgin Mary figurines seeping strange liquids. And, whilst sceptics believe there are good reasons to doubt the validity of such occurrences, to the local populations they are often only explainable under the term ‘miracle’. In November 1992, a six-inch-high, blue and white porcelain statue of the Virgin Mary began weeping blood in Santiago, Chile. The figurine, which belonged to a local housewife, became an attraction for local people in the La Cisterna district and was even tested by Chilean police. Doctors at the Santiago coroner’s office discovered that the liquid produced at the statue’s eyes was type O-4 human blood.

A similar event happened in the small village of Mura, 35 miles north of Barcelona in Spain. Outside the village church a two foot high marble statue of the Virgin Mary had been set on a seven-foot-high pedestal. In March 1998, the local priest, Luis Costa, discovered it was crying tears of blood. Mura residents were convinced the phenomenon was genuine. The statue had not been tampered with, and further investigation revealed the blood was emanating from the figure in a particularly human way. Sceptics are quick to dismiss such stories. Some promote fanciful theories that water is soaked up by the base of the statues, mixes with red clay inside them, and then appears through the head as blood. Others are convinced these instances have been created through the use of a simple magic trick. Certainly, it is true that the actual point when blood appears on such statues is rarely witnessed. By diverting people’s attention, it is easy to interfere with the figurines unnoticed. But these explanations fail to alter the effect on a credulous public. Although it is important to discover the truth, this type of religious mysticism is a pleasant way to remind us that there are still some things in life that we just can’t explain.

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