Wow! How often do you see something like this?
Earlier this year in May, we reported about the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hobbs, New Mexico that was allegedly miraculously crying tears that smelled like roses (see video of a local news report below). The local parish priest told reporters that he had contacted his bishop right away, who in turn said they would pursue an investigation.
The preliminary results of that investigation were just released.
Bishop Oscar Cantú of the diocese of Las Cruces issued a statement (which you can read in full at the end of this article) explaining the detailed tests they had thus far conducted, with this conclusion: “So far, we have not discerned natural causes for the statue’s emitting of liquid.”
As part of their investigation, the bishop says his team physically examined the statue, gathered eye-witness testimony, checked the interior of the statue (found nothing but cobwebs), talked to the company that made the statue, and had a lab test the liquid to determine its composition. The lab found the liquid was “olive oil with a scented mixture… quite similar, chemically, to the Sacred Chrism” used in sacraments.
Since his team cannot, so far, find any natural cause for the statue’s tears, the bishop said the next step is to discern the spiritual origins of the miracle.
“If the cause of the phenomenon is supernatural, we must discern if it is from God or from the devil,” he writes. “I remind you that the Church believes in the existence of fallen angels, who at times try to trick us. We renounce the devil, however. […]
“The discernment of whether it is a phenomenon from God or from the Evil One is a longer process. The devil can sometimes imitate holy things in order to confuse us. So, we must be prudent and vigilant.”
In other words, just because something supernatural may have happened, it doesn’t mean it was from God. This is a very wise bishop!
The bishop also reminded the faithful in his letter that miracles and private revelations do not tell us more about God than the Church already knows; rather, they are meant to lead us to more faithfully follow God’s public revelation given to the Church.
Here is a news report about the statue with video of the tears:
Here is the bishop’s full statement:
“As a prelude to this report, I wish to say a word about revelation from God. The Catholic Church recognizes an important difference between public revelation and private revelation. Public revelation includes Scripture and Tradition. As Catholics, these two are the bedrock of our faith, and it is the Magisterium (bishops in union with the pope) that is the authentic interpreter of revelation. Private revelations include apparitions and messages of Mary, the saints, or of Jesus himself that have occurred after the death of the last apostle. With the death of the last Apostle public revelation ceased. While Catholics are obliged to hold to the teachings of the public revelation, we are not morally obligated to believe private revelations. No new information regarding our salvation is to be gained from private revelations. The messages of private revelations only reaffirm and highlight what Christ has already revealed in Scripture and Tradition. Thus, Mary and the saints always lead us back to Jesus and to the Church. This is why Mary instructed St. Juan Diego, “go to the bishop,” and “build a temple.” While miracles have occurred in the history of the Church, they always lead us back to the fundamentals of our faith: the Church, the sacraments, prayer, and confession.
“While the investigation of the phenomenon at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Hobbs, NM, regarding the statue of Mary, is not yet complete, I wish to offer a progress report.
“On Sunday the Solemnity of Pentecost, the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to be crying. Parishioners observed liquid emitting from the eyes of bronze statue. The liquid was reported to have emitted three times: on Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost; on Monday (the next day), the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church; and on Saturday, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“Fr. Jose Segura, the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, called me immediately to report what he and parishioners were observing. He sent me video of the occurrences. I subsequently asked our chancellor, Fr. Enrique Lopez, and vice chancellor, Deacon Jim Winder, to initiate an investigation. They traveled to Hobbs, physically examined the statue, collected samples of the liquid emitted from the statue, and began to gather verbal and written testimony from eye-witnesses. The company that fabricated the statue was interviewed.
“The statue is made of bronze. As the hollow interior was examined, nothing was found on the interior that could have created liquid. There were cobwebs in the hollow interior. In interviewing the owners of the Mexican company that produced the statue, they informed us that the process of creating the statue involves a wax mold, upon which the liquid bronze is poured. In that process, the temperatures are so high that the wax completely melts away. Thus, they assured us, there remains no possibility of wax remaining in the bronze statue as it cools and dries.
“The liquid samples collected from the statue were sent to a lab for chemical analysis. Two distinct methods of analysis indicate the same outcome: the liquid is olive oil with a scented mixture. This would be quite similar, chemically, to the Sacred Chrism. The three oils blessed each year for use in our sacraments and sacred rituals are all olive oil. The one oil which is consecrated, the Sacred Chrism, is mixed with balsam, a scented perfume as it is consecrated.
“The first phase of the investigation is to determine if the phenomenon can be explained by natural causes. So far, we have not discerned natural causes for the statue’s emitting of liquid.
“If the cause of the phenomenon is supernatural, we must discern if it is from God or from the devil. I remind you that the Church believes in the existence of fallen angels, who at times try to trick us. We renounce the devil, however. When we renew our baptismal promises during the Easter Season, we are asked three questions: “Do you renounce Satan? And all his works? And all his empty show?” We respond, “I do,” to each of the three questions.
“The discernment of whether it is a phenomenon from God or from the Evil One is a longer process. The devil can sometimes imitate holy things in order to confuse us. So, we must be prudent and vigilant. This discernment takes much longer, as we must look at the fruits of the phenomenon. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are mentioned by St. Paul: charity, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Gal. 5:22-23).
“Thus, the investigation is not yet complete so as to make a definitive pronouncement. The Holy Spirit and the Church will guide us in that respect.
“I wish to thank Fr. Segura, the parish staff, and the parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe for their prayerful disposition and hospitality to visitors in the face of such an unexpected occurrence. I will plan a visit to the parish before I leave for San Jose, so as to pray and celebrate the Eucharist with the parish community.
“Bishop Oscar Cantú”