Church artifacts with miraculous powers:
About statues in Roman Catholicism:
Rev. Roger J. Smith, pastor of
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
in Seattle, WA, writes: "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
However, some devout believers depart from the church's teaching and
attribute miraculous powers to statues and other images of Jesus and the saints.
Stories of statues that bleed, weep tears, exude oil, etc. surface from
time to time all over the world.
We will attempt to describe some of these
events in this essay. We believe that most have not been investigated scientifically.
Most, if not all, of those who
have been studied have been proven to be hoaxes.
How to make a weeping statue:
In his book "The Unexplained," Doctor Karl P.N. Shuker, mentions a
paper by Dr. Luigi Garlaschelli from Pavia University published in Chemistry
in Britain. It describes how to make a statue weep.
An except from the book is: "What is needed is a hollow statue made of a porous
material such as plaster or ceramic. The icon must be glazed or painted with
some sort of impermeable coating. If the statue is then filled up with a liquid
(surreptitiously, through a tiny hole in the head, for example), the porous
material will absorb it, but the glazing will stop it from flowing out. If the
glazing, however, is imperceptibly scratched away on or around the eyes,
tear-like drops will leak out, as if materialising from thin air. If the cavity
behind the eyes is small enough, once all the liquid has dripped out there are
virtually no traces left in the icon. When I put it to the test, this trick
proved to be very satisfactory, baffling all onlookers."
2004-MAY: Brisbane, Australia:
News spread that a large plaster statue of the Virgin Mary at the Inala
Vietnamese Catholic Centre in Brisbane, Australia, was seeping scented oil
from its eyes, nose, forehead and fingers. A small crucifix on the altar and
religious figurines have bled. Also included in the apparently miraculous display were rosary
beads and a picture of Jesus Christ. Thousands of devotees visited
the Catholic Centre to view the artifacts.
Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane arranged for a commission to
investigate the occurrences. It was headed by Dr Adrian Farrelly, a retired
chemistry professor who is an Agnostic. The statue of the
Virgin Nary was X-rayed. Oil and blood samples were analyzed using gas chromatography and
mass spectroscopy. He found that:
|The rose-scented oil on the artifacts was "...very likely one
that is commercially available and it is possible that the substance was applied
to them by human hands."|
|"The red substance found on some of the artifacts was shown not to be blood."
|Two small-diameter holes had been drilled through the statute through which liquids could
have been injected. |
The commission concluded that it was "not satisfied the phenomenon was, within the proper
meaning of the word, a miracle".
Archbishop Bathersby stated: "Given that there is the possibility that human agency could produce the
phenomenon then....I must declare that what has happened at Inala cannot be
said to be of supernatural origin." He ordered that the items be
removed from public veneration. On 2004-AUG-01, he apologized to everyone who was
deceived by the hoax, and asked for an accounting of funds received "during
the time of these pilgrimages." He revealed that the Catholic Centre's priest, Father Joseph Nguyen
Thanh Liem, had routed additional money obtained from the sale of rosary beads
and crucifixes into a special account to ease poverty in African countries. Fr.
Joseph had believed that the events were truly miraculous. He said that he had
seen three other statues of the Virgin weeping at homes around Inala.
Some parishioners agreed. One said: "I don't care [about the report]. With my eyes I saw
that. I believe it in my heart." Another believes that the weeping Mary
statues were: "a
sign from God"....I saw it, it's a miracle. No one knows what happened but it's a sign from
- Roger J. Smith, "Religious Art: Catholic
teaching down the centuries," 1997, at:
- Dr. Karl P. N. Schuker, "The Unexplained," Carlton Books, (1997)
ISBN: 1-85868-384. Cited in "Weeping Statues," at:
- "Professor examines weeping
statues," MomeMSN, 2004-JUN-2, at:
- Margaret Wenham, Emma Chalmers and Amanda Watt,
"Church says 'weeping' statues are fakes," News.com.au, 2004-AUG-2,
A skeptical book:
Web sites by believers in miraculous statues:
Copyright © 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2004-AUG-2
Latest update: 2004-AUG-2
Author: B.A. Robinson