Statue of Our Lady of Grace weeps Medford, Massachusetts

"I think she's crying because this church may close."



Photo of Our Lady of Medford weeping.



February 28, 2004 - Reported in the [Boston]. Written by Jules Crittenden.Tears of Mary: Medford faithful say statue weeps. On her pedestal by a busy Medford street, the faithful say, the Blessed Virgin is weeping. Two grayish discolorations running down the cheeks of Our Lady of Grace, the painted 6-foot-tall statue in front of Sacred Heart Church in Medford, are the tracks of Mary's tears, believers say.

"It's a miracle, that's all. What else can I say?" said parishioner Pat Milano, 67. "It's some kind of message." "She is crying, and she's been crying for two weeks, and nobody wanted to believe me," said Rose Marie Connolly, 65. "I say she doesn't want this parish closed." An Everett woman, who declined to give her name, said, "She's trying to get our attention, the world's attention. The world is decaying rapidly. It makes me cry that she's honoring us, telling us to go back to her son."

Some visitors yesterday wiped swabs of cotton on the statue to give to ailing relatives. Parish secretary Paula Cacciola said someone called her out to see the tear marks Feb. 9. "I said, 'Oh, my God, she's been crying.' I had no doubts. It's not wet tears. It's a tear stain. It's never been there," Cacciola said. "She has every reason to cry, with the sadness of the world." Pastor Robert Doherty declined to call it a miracle, saying there are any number of natural explanations. But he said grace is where you find it. "An ordinary event can move into the supernatural," he said.

The first sighting came more than a month after news the archdiocese is closing some parishes, but before Medford learned that one of its five churches, as yet undesignated, will be closed. Doherty said he doesn't think the tear marks have anything to do with that. But if someone did it to create the illusion of a miracle, he said, "It's a distortion."An archdiocesan priest has examined the statue, but spokesman the Rev. Christopher Coyne said there is currently no formal investigation under way. Only a handful of worshipers have shown up so far, but after the experience of [Milton Hospital], where thousands went last summer to see a condensation pattern in a window that resembled Mary, Doherty is worried about what might happen.

February 28, 2004 - Sacred Heart Church believes to have miracle on hand, statue of Virgin Mary cries tears.
Reported in [Tufts]. Written by Katharine Clark. Parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in Medford believe that a miracle has occurred: the statue of Mary outside the parish's rectory now appears to have tears running down her cheeks. "There's so much craziness, and so much doubt nowadays, but I personally believe it's a miracle," Pastor Bob Doherty said. "She's trying to tell us something, and we have to figure out what it is." Sacred Heart Church is located on the corner of Boston Avenue and Winthrop Street, near campus.

The tears were first observed Feb. 9. "People feel that the face has the appearance of tears coming down from the eyes. It was never that way, the statue has always been just white-washed in the face," Doherty said. Believers in the tears have different theories about the statue's grief. Many parishioners believe Mary may be weeping because two Boston area parishes, possibly Sacred Heart, may be closed down. The archdiocese will make a final decision on the closings in May. At a meeting on Sunday night in Medford, it was decided that should these closings be necessary in Medford, the first church to close will be St. James, followed by Sacred Heart.

However, Doherty feels that "it more likely may be because there are priests abusing children that there is a sadness and a weeping in her face." Parishioner Ginny Del Signori and her daughters painted the statue two and a half years ago with standard outdoor paint from Home Depot. "I know for a fact that those marks were not there until two weeks ago this Monday," Del Signori said. "I do a lot of volunteer work at the church and I always looked at the statue to make sure it didn't need any touching up." While many are quick to call it a miracle, the face's streaked appearance may be a result of dripping from a steam pipe on the roof two stories above, ice melted in the recent rain, or a defect in the paint.

This discrepancy is "why the church authorities are very careful" to declare any unexplained event a miracle, Doherty said. "Most people here say that it's crying, but the painter two years ago definitely did not paint that." Del Signori agreed. "My own relatives have said maybe it's just the ice that melted off in the rain, but I think there's no way. Why is it just in those two spots, why would it just have streaked in those two spots? There is no place else on the statue that there are any marks." A chemist and an FBI agent will soon be investigating the statue, taking a swab from the face to examine the chemistry of the marks. "If it's definitely human tears coming down the face, not paint or tears or a crack in the paint, then it's a little more authentic," Doherty said. "Otherwise we don't want to make a big deal about it."

Should secular authorities determine that the streaks are real tears, the Vatican must decide the procedure for recognition. Doherty referenced the recent investigation of a statue in Italy whose tears were decided to be human. "After the tests, then the Catholic church may label it something officially, but for now, it's up to people to decide for themselves," Doherty said. Many people have come to see the miracle and pay their respects. "The stream of people is constant. People are leaving flowers, coming in here praying," said Paula Cacciola, the church secretary. "There are people who come every day, they look, they pray, they leave. We're not making it a big publicity deal, it's word of mouth. People who believe and believe what they want to believe are coming."

Many are forced to question their own beliefs upon seeing the tears. "A stone statue, crying -- impossible!" Cacciola said of her initial reaction. "The whole thing is odd on both sides. Is it a defect? You have to look at the skeptical side, but to me, there are no other marks on that whole statue. It's like she cried and it just stained her face." Whether or not the Vatican decides to officially recognize the tears as an apparition, Sacred Heart's wish is that "it brings people some hope," Doherty said. "People should come and see and experience it. You really have to experience it. It's up to us to make a change here." Del Signori and other parishioners would like to see the area marked by a monument or shrine, but doubt this would actually occur. "I don't think that will happen unless we have positive proof," she said. "I would like to see the area preserved, and have people come, because she's obviously trying to tell us something."



March 1, 2004 - Medford Mary's miracle tears help some find deeper message. Reported in the [Boston]. Written by Jules Crittenden. "I physically felt her crying. I could tell inside she was sad," said Ginny DelSignore, 50, who painted the statue two years ago and believes it is a miracle. "I got a personal message. This is a sad world. But God does not have just one message."

Joseph Tassone, 74, came prepared to be skeptical: "I thought maybe it was planted. But I don't think so. It gives me a closer feeling. She's watching over us. She's trying to tell us something. What it is may come at a later date."His wife, Regina Tassone, 53, said, "She wants people to come together, to believe. It's amazing, absolutely amazing, in our little town."

An archdiocese spokesman said the church has not yet investigated the claim of a miracle, which was first noticed Feb. 9. Yesterday, dozens came, some wiping cloths or holding religious medals to the statue. Linda Withma, 52, who came from Groton, said,"`I don't have the words to describe what I'm thinking or feeling, but I like what I'm seeing. I didn't know people were this awake (to their faith). If this is what it takes . . ."

March 4, 2004 - To believers, statue sheds tears of woe. Reported in the [Boston]. Written by Christine McConville. As Catholics brace themselves for what's sure to be a painful series of parish closings, there's talk of a miracle at Sacred Heart Church in Medford: people are flocking to a statue of the Virgin Mary they say is shedding tears.Two weeks ago, a delivery man told a rectory worker that the life-sized statue outside the red-brick church near Tufts University was weeping. By yesterday at noon, the devout and the curious were arriving at the statue every few minutes.

"I think she's crying because this church may close," said Stephanie Pucillo of Medford, who visited the statue yesterday during her lunch break after her mother told her about it. "Is it real? I don't know. But the timing is ironic, with everything that's going on." Last month, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley informed all the 357 parishes that due to dwindling Mass attendance, a shortage of priests, and financial constraints, some churches would be forced to close by the end of the year. He instructed priests and parish officials to meet and identify which parishes ought to be slated for closing.

The five Catholic parishes in Medford have decided that if one of them must close, it should be St. James Parish, and if two churches must close, then Sacred Heart Church has been recommended, according to Sacred Heart's church bulletin. The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, the archdiocesan spokesman, was on vacation and unavailable for comment. But Sacred Heart's pastor, the Rev. Robert Doherty, said: "The statute is not weeping. It's just an outdoor statute."

He said that streams of water have been rolling down the statue's face from one or both eyes. Doherty said that given all the troubles that the Catholic churches has faced lately, from the sex-abuse scandal to the proposed church closings, it makes sense that devout Catholics believe the statue is weeping. "I think the Blessed Mother is crying, but I don't think the statue is," he said. Doherty said the statue has been in front of the church for years, and until recently, it was entirely white. About two years ago, a parishioner added blue hues to the icon's robe, and flesh colored paint to its face.

The church has remained open during the day to handle the crowds. At the Espresso Pizza nearby, employee Chris Hernon said the weeping statue is "the talk of the town." He said he has watched people stop by at all hours of the day, and night. "We close at 3 in the morning, and they are out there even then, getting a look," Hernon said. Yesterday, there were a dozen people praying in the church, and another dozen outside in front of the statue. The base was covered with bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, and candles. Rosary beads dangle from its hands.

For a while, people also were leaving money, but Doherty posted a sign asking people not to leave the donations." We are not in debt," he said, "and the [proposed] closing has nothing to do with the weeping statue."



[Address] Sacred Heart Parish 51 Winthrop street Medford, Massachusetts 02155