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Weeping St Mary MacKillop Mystery in Australia

Mary_MacKillopDROMANA, Australia — An 82-year-old woman claims her picture of St Mary MacKillop is crying tears again.

Julie Zammit, resident of Dromana, first reported her claims in 2007, when she noticed the droplets appearing on the face of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart founder.

Mackillop, canonized in 2010 after a long 85 years wait, is the first Australian declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Now the oil droplets have reappeared on the painting.

“I never touch the picture so this happens by itself,” Zammit told the Herald Sun.

“It’s a strange thing,” she added. “I cannot explain it. I don’t know what it means.”

She says she has inquired about the phenomenon to members of the local clergy but they have been unable to provide with an explanation.

These claims are sometimes hard to verify because they usually imply an intrinsic religious value to the witness.

Science believes it has discovered the element responsible for most of the weeping and bleeding religious art. A type of bacterium, Serratia marcescens, is capable of producing a red pigment called prodigiosin that tends to hang out on certain surfaces.

“These bacterium first attracted scientific attention in early modern times when it was found oozing out of damp Italian statues, communion wafers and, of all things, polenta doing its best impersonation of ‘blood.’ And blood it was taken to be—usually miraculously—until a pharmacist named Bartolomeo Bizio started trying to get to the bottom of what peasants declared to be an outbreak of diabolically cursed polenta in 1819. Bizio believed a microorganism was responsible. In the test chamber, he found the bacterium happily chowing down on polenta while cranking out red pigment. Believing it to be a fungus, he named it Serratia in honor of Italian physicist Serafino Serrati, and marcescens because of the pigment’s tendency to fade or decay rapidly,” Jennifer Frazer wrote on the Scientific American in 2011.

Other experts theorize that the phenomenon is just a case of condensation.

But Science is not the only one in charge of determining whether the “miracle” is true or not. The Catholic Church takes these claims quite seriously and has classified many of the “bleeding statues” cases as hoaxes. This is what happened in 2002 with the bleeding statue of Saint Padre Pio in Messina, Sicily, when Church officials sent the alleged blood to a lab and found out it belonged to a woman. The event was immediately dismissed as a hoax.

So far, the only weeping statue case validated by the Holy Office has been the Japanese “Our Lady of Akita“, recognized as worthy of belief in 1988.

Other famous instances, some declared as hoaxes while others still under investigation, are St. Anne’s Tears in New York, the weeping Virgin Mary in South Korea, the weeping Madonna in Australia, and the bleeding Mother Mary in Louisiana.

In 2012, a TV network in the Philipines broadcasted the case of the bleeding Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, but further investigations revealed the blood was from a person.

 

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