Weeping Statues and Christian Relics
Lady of Akita
Our Lady of Akita statue in Japan is a 3 foot tall weeping image of the Virgin Mary carved from a single block of wood. Analysis of the tears and blood proved they were from a human source. The statue which reportedly shed tears 101 times was declared as authentic by the Holy Office in 1988, and remains the only one officially recognized. A unique aspect of the Akita statue was the tears were broadcast on national television.
The events began on June 12, 1973, when Sister Agnes saw bright rays of light emanating from the tabernacle where she had been praying. The nun, living in Yuzawadai in Akita prefecture, sensed the importance of her vision and returned to the statue to pray. It happened again the following two days.
In a journal, she made mention of seeing an angel beside her and would, at times, say the rosary with her. An extremely painful cross shaped wound, which bled profusely, appeared on her left palm. It was later healed as the angel said it would.
Sister Agnes had suffered numerous health problems and was at the time totally deaf. She also saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. A week later she heard a voice coming from the statue. The other nuns at Yuzawadai also reported witnessing these events.
Over the next few months she was given three separate messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary. On October 13th the angel said her hearing would be restored and it was. Later, she became deaf again and according to the angel’s predictions and once again it was miraculously restored.
Weeping statues are most often of the Virgin Mary and sometimes accompanied by claims of Marian apparitions. However, most have usually been dismissed as hoaxes. There was even a paper written on how easy it was to make a statue weep!
A weeping statue is one which has been claimed to shed tears by supernatural means. Statues weeping tears appearing to be blood, oil, and scented liquids have been reported. Devout believers attribute miraculous powers to statues and other images of Jesus and the saints. Such stories surface from time to time all over the world
Rev. Roger J. Smith, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Seattle explains: "Catholics do not worship paintings, or statues. They are just a way of conveying something about God, and are not God themselves. It is quite clear to any thinking person that stone or paint cannot be God, but can only represent, or tell something about, some small aspect of God.....saints are venerated in the sense of having profound respect for them. Icons and images are venerated only in the sense that we venerate, i.e. show respect for, the person depicted."
Researchers of such events initially rule out obvious hoaxes and natural phenomena. Numerous hoaxes have been perpetrated, even among people with pious, honest reputations. Beyond natural explanations, parapsychologists have offered psychic explanations and in the end found them to be a hoax.
Catholic Church authorities have been very cautious when dealing with any report of a weeping statue and have set rigid guidelines before even agreeing to study it. For instance, when the popular statue of Saint Padre Pio in Sicily was found to have tears of blood in 2002 investigation revealed the blood was from a female.
In 1995, a Madonna statue in Italy appeared to weep blood. The local bishop declared he had seen it. The blood on the statue was found to be male. The statue’s owner, refused to take a DNA test. Weeping paintings are also reported, but to date all have also been hoaxes. Weeping statues, paintings and the like are not the only objects revered by church parishioners and other believers. Many Christian relics and artifacts have long been held to possess super natural attributes.
Perhaps the best known, having biblically documented powers, is the Arc of the Covenant. It disappeared around 600 B.C. This Holy artifact which contains the 10 commandments is rumored to be somewhere in Ethiopia…and in a number of other locations.
Another such artifact is the Holy Grail. It is the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. It’s believed by some to possess miraculous powers. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have received the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sent it with his followers to Great Britain. Some feel later writers embellished the story claiming Joseph used the Grail to catch Christ’s blood before His burial.
There are several thoughts regarding the Grail’s origin. One holds that it derived from early Celtic myth and folklore. Others believe the Grail began as a purely Christian symbol. There are cups claimed to be the Grail in several churches.
Then, there is the spear used at Christ’s crucifixion. As with other artifacts of this nature, there is more than one. It is believed that the spear grants its holders some powers such as invincibility, healing and prolonging one’s life. None of these spears however, appears to be genuine. Probably the earliest forgery of the holy lance dates from 312 AD