(Danish Original) The Virgin is crying. All over the world reported miracles are reported of statues, icons or other images of the Mother of Jesus Christ, literally shedding tears. Reports of these occurrences come in from all over the world - USA, Holland, Germany, France, Italy - even from Denmark, a nation with a population of 85% Protestants where an icon in the Russian-orthodox Church Alexander Nievskij cried for a period of 8 months in 1995. Mostly these tears consist of a water-like substance, which when analysed in laboratories are proved to have exactly the same chemical consistency as human tears. In some cases the tears have been those of blood. Normally Church-authorities are very careful with these kind of apparent divine manifestations, simply for fear of sensationalism and superstition. There is a danger to focus more on the supernatural event than on the life of faith. Hard-core rationalists with a very material approach to reality may find themselves having an even harder time with the crying Madonnas than the Church-authorities. But sometimes the scientifical evidence of the miracle is so overwhelming that even the greatest sceptics scratch their head.
Today one of the most renowned crying Madonnas is found in Civitavechia, the harbour-city of Rome. It is known by the name La Maddonina della lacrime - the little Madonna of tears. The statue today is placed in the Church Sant Agostino . It was in this parish that the events began in 1995. Today the little Church has become an important place of pilgrimage and devotion. The first thing one notices upon entering the Church is the scent of flowers brought to the Church by the hundreds of pilgrims that every day come to visit the shrine. The statue today is placed at the right of the altar behind glass.
I talked with one of the priests in the parish, padre Roberto Cattaneo, 40 years old, himself a witness to the miracle and one of the now five priests who take care of the pilgrims. Padre Cattaneo worked as a priest in Rome until the beginning of the events, when his superiors asked him to move to Civitavechia in order to help the pilgrims.
"Our work is to take care of the pilgrims,"Father Catteneo says. "Every day about a hundred pilgrims arrive, except for weekends, where the number increases. People come from all over Italy, most from the more religious southern Italy. Also we have many pilgrims from other countries, often people who are on a visit to Rome and the Vatican, and who have heard of the miracle. As you see, we have enlarged the parish, for instance with a tent, where mass can be said, when the Church becomes to small."
"Tell us about how everything started..."
"Everything began in 1995. Then there was but one priest in the parish. He went on pilgrimage to the well known Marian shrine Medjugorie in Bosnia, where the Mother of Jesus since 1981 has revealed herself to 6 persons that at the beginning where only children. Fabio Gregori, the father in the family where the events started had asked the priest to bring a statue of the Virgin Mary. The family had built a little stone-grotto in the garden for Our Lady and placed the statue there – this is the tradition in our area.
On the second of February, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, the family went to church. The service was scheduled to take place at four o’clock, but when the family arrived, there was a notice saying, it had been postponed for half an hour. Fabio Gregori decided to go back home with one of the two children, five year old Jessica, in order to give her something to eat. The family lives a few minutes drive from the Church. After Jessica had eaten, they went out to the car. Fabio was already inside the car, when Jessica shouted: "Dad! Dad, Mary is crying". First he didn’t react, thinking it was silly, but when she insisted, he went out to her, just to make her happy, and there he saw, what thousands of people saw after: By itself blood appeared on the surface of both eyes of the statue, forming tears under the eyelids, that streamed down, leaving two red traces on the statue. Both father and daughter were speechless. Gregori decided to drive back to the Church and tell people of what had happened. He returned with the priests and many of those, who had been to mass. This was the beginning of the events.
I believe, it is not a coincidence, that the first person to witness the miracle, was a child. God reveals Himself to mere children. This is an old word from the Bible. Only those who are pure and simple of heart, can see God. It is a teaching for us all. From the day, everything began, the second February, she cried fourteen times altogether.
The rumour of the miracle spread rapidly. Thousands of pilgrims started to come. People cued in the streets to see the statue. At the end the police couldn’t control it anymore, and in order to create order, they asked the Bishop of Civitavechia, Monsignor Grillo Girolamo, to take away the statue and hide it in his home. Bishop Girolamo himself did not believe in the incidents. He felt it was mass-hysteria. Having heard of similar events he felt it was superstition. The police therefore took the statue and handed it over to the bishop, who put it in a room where he lives.
The 15th of March 1995 the bishop had a visit from his sister and brother in law as well as two nuns. The sister was curious and asked her brother, if they couldn’t pray before the statue. The bishop didn’t object. After all it was only a statue of our Lady, and as such deserved to be venerated as any other statue. So the party kneeled in front of the statue in silent prayer. After a a while the bishop took the statue in his hands and there with the statue in his hands he suddenly witnessed, what thousands of pilgrims before him had seen: Red liquid appeared on the eyes of the statue, that after a while ran down across it.
At the same time the bishop experienced an inner manifestation, transcending the mere chock of the event. In the book, published only one month ago with the title - She cried in my hands he explains how he experienced an inner spiritual re-experience of Grace, which totally has changed his spiritual life as a priest and bishop. This was the fourteenth and last lacrimation."
"How did the Church react to the events?"
"The Vatican is always very careful with these kinds of phenomenon, which in a way is very understandable, since there are also false manifestations. But in this case there have been so many witnesses. And what is more, the primary witness - who is the bishop himself - is a person of high standing, whose testimony is taken seriously by Church-authorities. The Vatican has set down a theological commission, which again has nominated two scientifical commissions - one from the Gemelli-hospital in Rome, and one from Criminalpol, that they may take care of the scientifical aspects of the case. The statue was taken to the laboratories of the Gemelli hospital, and this is where the tests where made. All possible analysis have been made - chemical analysis of the tears, scanning of the statue, etc. The chemists took away part of the blood for the tests. This is why you do not see as much blood as before. The scanning of the statue showed, that it is made out of one solid block, with no porosities or channels, through which blood could have been pumped to the eyes. The analysis further revealed that the blood was real human blood, not that of a woman, but of a man! This may be surprising, but we believe, there is a deep theological meaning in this fact. We see it as a symbol of the blood of Jesus, the son of Mary, and that this is significant in order to understand the unity between mother and son.
The theological commission still works, but by now should be finished with its investigations. We expect that the church soon will proceed with some sort of recognition.The evidence is too strong for a denial of the case."
"The phenomenon itself is very interesting. But there is more to it, than the mere supernatural aspect of it. What is the meaning of this miracle? What is its meaning?"
"We believe, there is a spiritual meaning with this sign. First of all La Madonnina through her tears expresses the same pain, that is in the heart of God. Pain over the world, over the lack of unity of the Church, also in the Catholic Church itself. God is tired of all the sins, committed in his Church. And Christ cries through his Mother. We feel, that Jesus in his pain says to us: "I have given you everything: My own Son, a Mother, the Church, signs and wonders – all, you might want. I can’t do any more. Now I allow blood to appear on my Mother, in order to make you understand my pain." The miracle should be understood not only has a provocation, as an eye-opener. It has a theological and symbolic significance, which is to point to the pain and love of God.
Secondly in order to believe in hell, it is not necessary to go to hell. It is enough to look into the hearts of people - to see the wickedness and egoism, reigning in the hearts of many people. People no longer have any sense of wrong and right. I have taught 19-year old youngsters, and I can witness to the fact, that there is no longer any sense of virtue and sin. What does the Virgin Mary do to prevent this hell from spreading? She wants us to accept the help, we are offered through the Church - to go to mass, to convert, to pray more, go to confession, and live a life of love for others. We are called to enter in communion with the tears of God and Mary, and this we do by forgiving and loving the people around us.
Thirdly the statue is a copy of the Madonna of Medjugorie. On its base it says Medjugorie. We believe there is a deep meaning in the fact, that it is not just any statue that is crying, but the one of Medjugorie. There is a spiritual connection between Medjugorie and Rome. We know the has spoken in favour of Medjugorie, but that he - being the head of the Church - cannot visit the shrine, as this would mean a recognition of the apparitions, which is impossible before the apparitions are ended. The pope has not been allowed to go Mary in Medjugorie, therefore the Mary from Medjugorie comes to the Pope.
In Medjugorie Mary calls to conversion. This call has not been heard. Therefore she gives this sign as a confirmation of the messages of Medjugorie, urging us to live the messages."
"What have been the consequences of the miracle?"
"People come here for various reasons. Some are curious. Some come to give thanks to Jesus and Mary for graces they received. And some come to ask graces. Many pilgrims have received specific graces in this place. We have testimonies of conversions and miracles - many testimonies. Healings have occurred. We have 25 medically confirmed cases of physical healing, and this number only covers those case, where doctors officially have signed a document, stating the person has been cured by inexplicable reasons. Drug-addicts have been freed of their abuse. Young people return to their faith. But the fruits do not only extend to lay-people. Even priests have experienced
"Many people, especially Protestants, have a hard time understanding, why it is so often statues of the Mother of Jesus, who are crying."
"Why so often the Madonna? Because Mary represents the mercy of God. Gos is just and merciful. We like to say, that God has kept the justice for himself, but that he has invested Mary with his mercy, in order that we more easily may understand his mercy. It is more easy to understand the tenderness of a mother than that of a father. One of the most famous Marian theologians in the catholic history, Louis de Montfort, said: The mercy is in the heart of the Mother, in order that the heart of the Mother may be the light of man. The Holy Trinity is in the Heart of the Mother, because she bore Jesus. Who has the Trinity in the heart, conceives mercy. For us, the words of Jesus on the Cross: "Woman, this is your son!" and "Son, this is your Mother" contain a deep symbolic meaning. These words were the second-last sentence of Jesus on the Cross, and we believe, they have universal meaning, that is that all Christians are called to be children of Mary. What does a mother do with her children, when she sees, they are in trouble - leaves them, or rushes to help them? This is why Mary still is with us. This miracle is a symbol of her presence among us."
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