Olive oil was first found near the eyes of a Virgin Mary statue at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, N.M., in May. Officials can’t determine the cause. (Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church)
Inside a Catholic church in New Mexico, a seven-foot-tall bronze statue of the Virgin Mary appears to be “weeping,” according to church leaders.
The sculpture, known locally as Our Lady of Guadalupe, is not crying human tears; an investigator with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces said her “tears” have the same chemical makeup as olive oil treated with perfume — a substance that, when blessed, would be chrism, a sacred oil used in the Catholic Church to anoint parishioners. But, church leaders say, the rare occurrence has prompted people from all over to come for conversions, confessions and to watch the statue of the mother of God cry.
The question, one expert says, is not merely how it’s happening (or whether it’s happening naturally) but how people are responding to the phenomenon and why they may want to believe in it.
“The Catholic Church has a long history of believing in supernatural signs,” John Thavis, who wrote the 2015 book “The Vatican Prophecies,” said Tuesday in a phone interview. “There’s a kind of curiosity and enthusiasm when something like this happens because it seems to confirm the traditional belief that God works in our own world and sometimes the supernatural is visible in our world.”
It started on Pentecost Sunday on May 20, when parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs noticed that there appeared to be tears streaming from the Virgin Mary’s eyes, Judy Ronquillo, the business manager for the church, told The Washington Post. She said the statue continued “weeping” the next day — something that she said has since occurred several more times.
Ronquillo translated questions into Spanish for the priest, the Rev. Jose Segura, who was quoted as saying that in his 12 years of priesthood, he has never seen anything like it and that he first struggled to believe it was real. But, Segura said, there are cameras in the church, and no man-made explanation could be determined; if there were evidence of that, he said, he would not allow it to continue, according to Ronquillo.
“It’s something extraordinary for him,” Ronquillo said about the priest. “He has no words for it.”
“There was a moment when it happened that he didn’t believe,” she added, “but now he believes.”
Photos and a video released by the church shows the statue with what appears to be liquid inside the eyes and down the cheeks, mouth and chin. In one photo, it looks as if the tear trail may have started on the upper eyelids.