Unlike tortillas or toast imprinted with an image of the face of Jesus, it’s not often that a church or holy place has a statue that appears to be weeping. It’s even less often that people less faithful than the true believers are unable to disprove the apparition and have no logical explanation for the occurrence. Yet that’s the situation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, New Mexico, where a bronze statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe has appeared to be weeping since May 20th and both non-partisan and Catholic experts are at a loss to explain it.
This isn’t just a few drops of teary liquid either – multiple gushes over the course of two months has resulted in 500 milliliters or two cups of it being collected (photos here). The Las Cruces Sun News reports that a teaspoon (5 ml) of the liquid was taken by an investigative team working for the local bishop, Bishop Oscar Cantú, and sent out for analysis. The result was not tears, says the bishop.
"And we determined it was olive oil, a scented olive oil. Some of the witnesses claimed it smelled of roses, so something similar to the oil I bless and consecrate each year that we use for baptism, for confirmations and for ordination of the priests."
The anointing oil used for church ceremonies is referred to as “chrism” or myrrh and it has been in the news a lot lately. A researcher in England claims that the formula given in the biblical story of Moses receiving the first anointing oil from God may indicate that it contained cannabis oil, which could explain some miracles like the curing of people with symptoms of epilepsy.
Deacon Jim Winder, one of the diocesan investigators, says no chrism oil was missing from the church. Since its first appearance on the statue, cameras have been set up to monitor it, the ceiling has been investigated for leaks (none found) and nothing appears to be unusual or suspicious in the general surrounding area. The hollow statue has reportedly been inspected inside and out and nothing strange was found … other than cobwebs.
“We don’t have an explanation for it. If it’s not man-made, that leaves two possible sources — Satan and God. All we can say at this point is what it is not."
What’s next for the weeping statue at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, New Mexico? Father Jose “Pepe” Segura, the church’s pastor, is trying to deal with the crowds it is attracting from around the country. Not surprisingly, Bishop Cantú wants to wrap up the investigation by September when he is scheduled to be transferred to the diocese of San Jose, California. Would proof of a miracle get him a better gig? He especially wants to find sufficient evidence to determine if the tears are from "Satan or God.” Who is the ultimate decision-maker?
“I’m checking best practices. Certainly, I have a final say, but I would defer to the wisdom of Pope Francis.”
Meanwhile, the scientists are baffled, the believers pray for answers and the statue is working on its third cup of olive oily tears.
Does anyone have the pope’s number?