Sunday, March 6, 2011

Of Weeping Statues, Past and Present

In late January of this year a 'visionary' visited the "Our Lady Queen of Reading" in Reading, Ohio. Not soon after the miraculous began to happen. In the back of the shop, a statue of the Virgin Mary began to weep. Then a statue of Jesus on a stairway also began to produce miraculous tears. Here is a local report of the phenomena as reported by WCPO channel 9:

Such accounts of weeping religious statues are not limited to Roman Catholicism; throughout history there has been accounts of weeping statues in various religions from ancient Greco-Roman paganism to modern Hinduism.

Dio Cassius in his 'Roman History' talks of not only a statue of Minerva weeping blood and milk, but also of a statue of Vibius moving on its own accord:

"While all this was going on, portents of no small moment again occurred, significant both for the city and for the consul himself, who was Vibius. Thus, in the last assembly before he set out for the war a man with the disease called the sacred disease fell down while Vibius was speaking. Also a bronze statue of him which stood in the vestibule of his house turned around of itself on the day and at the hour that he set out on the campaign, and the sacrifices customary before war could not be interpreted by the seers by reason of the quantity of blood. Likewise a man who was just then bringing him a palm slipped in the blood which had been shed, fell, and defiled the palm. These were the portents in his case. Now if they had befallen him when a private citizen, they would have pertained to him alone, but since he was consul, they had a bearing on all alike. So, too, these portents: the statue of the Mother of the Gods on the Palatine, which had formerly faced the east, turned around of itself toward the west;that of Minerva worshipped near Mutina, where the heaviest fighting occurred, sent forth a quantity of blood and afterwards of milk also; furthermore, the consuls took their departure just before the Feriae Latinae, and there is no instance where this has happened and the Romans have fared well" ( Roman History: Book 46 Chapter 33 Pararaphs 1-4, Leob Classical Library, Translation by Earnest Cary)

According to Lucan, the statues of the gods were weeping and sweating as Ceasar advanced on Rome:
"We have heard how the native dieties wept, and how with sweat the Lares attested the woes of the City" (Pharsalia Book 1 Vesrses 556-557, Translation by H.T. Riley)

And a statue of Apollo wept for four days according to Julius Obsequens in his "Book of Prodigies" (Chapter 12)

In a reverse action, statues of Hindu gods in from Ganesh to Krishna drank up milk by the gallons in India for a few days in September 1995 and again in August 2006 and September 2010.

What are we to make of these incredible feats of what would appear to be the miraculous from ancient Rome to humble Ohio?

Of course such feats can be easily faked. To make a statue weep, one needs only a hallow statue filled with liquid and pin holes made in the enamel paint at the corner of the statues eyes. Allowing for time and temperature, soon the statue will seem to cry. Add food coloring and it will look like blood. According to those who doubted the eating idols of India, the statues were filled with kitty litter and likewise had holes in strategic places for the milk to be absorbed.

But is that what was happening, or is the miraculous manifesting itself in these phenomenal iconography? Vatican authorities are very cautious when lending credence to such phenomena, often they steer clear of any such claims and let the religious fervor of these incidents work themselves out.

Unless there is thorough analysis of these weeping objects of adoration, we cannot know if it is a product of a supernatural manifestation or but cheap and contemptible chicanery.

When it all comes down to it, I guess it is a matter of faith...

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope


Jessica Penot said...

I would love to believe in these, but so many have been explained through natural mechanisms that even the cradle Catholic in me has become a bit of a skeptic.

Anonymous said...

At least within Catholicism, statues are NOT "objects of adoration". They are venerated in a way that is very similar to the respect many Americans show to the US flag.

-- Howard