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.
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 Unpublished reports of the testing have supposedly been able to verify this theory, but peer reviewed scientific research is rarely, if ever, carried out into the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.
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. Our Lady of Akita was also declared as worthy of belief by the Holy Office in 1988.
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.
|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|||
Weeping paintings 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.
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. The event gained international attention and drew many onlookers to the church. 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. A painting of Mary on plywood was said to have wept on March 10, 1992 in Barberton, Ohio; annual pilgrimages celebrating the event were still in practice as late as 2002. 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.
References in popular culture
The movie Stigmata opens with the investigation of a weeping statue.
A weeping Madonna statue figures heavily into the 1989 comedy We're No Angels, in which Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn portray convicts on the run who hide out as priests in a border town. They eventually plan on crossing the border in the annual parade devoted to the icon.
- Weeping statue of Padre Pio 
- Church rules out Padre Pio tears 
- Priest Expels Weeping Statue Man 
- Skeptics Conference
- Hoaxes exposed 
- You tube on fake statue [www.youtube.com/watch?v=57e9OMZlghY]
- Fake statues 
- Fake Rockingham statue 
- Fake Statue article 
- Catholic News on Fake Weeping Statue 
- Court Trial for Fake Statue 
- Sicily statues Bäumer Marienlexikon, p.398
- Rotzoll, Brenda Warner. (2001-07-15) "Other images have captured attention". The Chicago Sun-Times, p. 27.
- Fremon, David K. (1988). Chicago Politics, Ward by Ward. Indian University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0253313449. http://books.google.com/books?id=VegZ4NF-7KEC&pg=PA237&dq=%22St.+Nicholas+Albanian+Orthodox+Church%22+Mary&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U0e5oJRf0EZ0jMJ_7_i1JWJMH0U3w. .
- Moran, Mark; Troy Taylor and Mark Sceurman (2005). Weird Illinois: Your Travel Guide to Illinois' Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. p. 68. ISBN 076075943X. http://books.google.com/books?id=gE4P1bhDCB4C&pg=PA68&dq=%22St.+Nicholas+Albanian+Orthodox+Church%22+Mary&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U00Kkvd0kPnRfpBqYJyNOwdr0r-gw#PPA68,M1.
- Pohlen, Jerome (2004). Oddball Ohio: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places. Chicago Review Press. p. 59. ISBN 1556525230. http://books.google.com/books?id=VsOptGbINbMC&pg=PA59&dq=%22Roman+Bernard%22+Mary&sig=ACfU3U2xiWfuxcrec3IA7v9vNVPXEPf19Q.
- Jenkins, Colette M. (2002-03-02) "Church celebrates anniversary of apparition." Akron Beacon Journal, page A12.
- AP. (2007-09-20) Samuel Greene Jr., 63; Texas monk accused of abuse LA Times. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
- UPI. (2006-08-12) Texas to seize embattled monastery upi.com. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
- Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims on the Paranormal
- Photographs of statues claimed to be weeping
- James Randi, Investigating Miracles, Italian-Style Scientific American, February 1996 
- Church Says Weeping Statues Fake
- "The 'new' idolatry" Joe Nickell investigates and exposes numerous weeping statue hoaxes.
- Why does The Madonna Weep?