Mystery of Australia’s weeping Madonna

BBC. Sep. 13, 2002

Scientists in Australia have failed to find the source of tears flowing from the eyes of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The fibreglass statue, on display at a

Devout Catholic Patty Powell, 47, paid $82 (Aus $150) for the statue in Bangkok eight years ago.

The statue, which has been dripping a rose-scented oil-like substance, has been attracting visitors from as far away as the east coast.

‘Very tricky’
Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey has said he does not think trickery is involved.

“When I went to see the statue for myself a couple of weeks ago I had misgivings and was sceptical, but frankly I was impressed,” he told AFP news agency.

But scientists still hope to prove the statue is a fake – if the owner will let them.

Curtin University X-ray expert Rob Hart could find no cavity or sign of fluid inside the statue, although he reported an unexplained mass at the statue’s feet.

Murdoch University chemist Doug Clarke, who tested the oily liquid, told reporters he thought someone had been “very tricky”, but he could find no proof the statue was fake.

He said the tears were a vegetable oil, probably olive, scented with a rose-oil mix, but a cat-scan would show definitively whether there was oil inside. However the owner is reportedly satisfied the statue is genuine and may refuse to submit it for more tests.

“The smell was hauntingly familiar, as if it were a local scent, but none of us could tell where it came from,” said Mr Clarke.

Parish priest Finbarr Walsh said the statue was giving great comfort to the sick including a dying priest who was anointed with the oily tears on Wednesday.

“Two hours later he was sitting up in bed as cheerful as anything,” he said.

The statue is being shown for a few hours a week at Our Lady of Lourdes church, in the Perth suburb of Rockingham.

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