Alix Campbell writes:

Statues, icons and paintings cry and bleed all the time. It can happen to almost any figure – the Virgin Mary, Jebus, any number of obscure saints, and even a Dutch statue of Elvis. Liquids exuded include blood, tears and oil. Usually hailed as miracles, weeping statues are often claimed to have healing properties, or to signal the dawn of a better time for the world, or as warning or remonstration for our wicked ways. Pilgrims rush to the statues for a squint at the bizarre sight, often signalling the dawn of increased profits for whichever house of whichever God houses the leaky icon.

There are two explanations for this strange phenomenon:
1 – It is a sign from God, or another higher power.
2 – There is a rational explanation, possibly, but not necessarily, involving some kind of hoax.
I’m 90% sure it’s number two.

There are numerous accounts of weeping statues, and plenty of photos, often rather grisly, but decent scientific explanations and details of tests on statues are not so plentiful. Most accounts are vague, or recounted by a third party. I could find no impartial accounts – instead there are all sorts of web pages claiming that these are miracles that science has yet to find an answer for. The extent of investigation into this has been to analyse the liquids – tears and blood examined have both been shown to be human. This somewhat empty fact has been accepted as proof of the miraculous nature of these events, but all it really shows is that the liquid can be identified. It does not point to an otherworldly mechanism behind the event. Weeping statues have been ‘faked’ by people curious to see if it could be done, and professional stage magic techniques can recreate similar effects, with no added divine intervention, which suggests that a somewhat less than heavenly explanation could be more likely.

In 1998 a statue of Our Lady housed in a comatose young girl’s bedroom apparently started weeping oil. People travelled for miles to pay to see this, and there were stories of a young boy being healed of a leg injury. However, the oil was analysed and shown to be 80% vegetable oil and 20% chicken fat, and the boy had been expected to recover anyway. It has been suggested that the oil was simply poured on the statue when no one was looking. The family had allowed a film crew in to document the miracle, yet would not allow them to film the statue for any length of time, leading to the above explanation. The family had good reason to allow the film crew in – they were getting paid for it. I would expect that there are people and organisations throughout the world that need money enough to fake a miracle, and there are certainly people gullible enough to believe it.

There is a casualness and subjectivity surrounding the reporting and investigation of weeping statues which means that they do remain a bit of a mystery – there’s never anyone around to really check whether anyone is filling the statue up with blood/ tears/ oil. Tempting as it is to label these inexplicable occurrences, there is really nothing that actually suggests they are anything more than hoaxes. Credulous miracle hungry people are happy to buy into this phenomenon, which is really not so different from a magician’s flashy prestidigitations, and were it not for the religious aspect which seems to make people suspend intelligence and logic, they would be dismissed as a clever fraud.

Also see – Hindu statues drinking milk. In 1995 statues of Ganesh in India started ‘drinking’ milk, and pretty soon statues all over the world were lapping the white stuff up. Although sceptics might say that the milk is absorbed into porous statues, I have to agree with one Parmeesh Soti, who pointed out that “It cannot be a hoax. Where would all that milk go to?” Indeed. Milk doesn’t just disappear. Statues must drink it. Mystery solved.

I hope I’m not wrong about all this. I really don’t want to go to Hell.