A sculpture of the Virgin Mary that appeared to be crying at a church in New Mexico is being investigated after it was determined her tears were olive oil.
The statue, which is located at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs, underwent a chemical analysis that was determined to be “a scented olive oil.”
“Some of the witnesses claimed it smelled of roses,” Bishop Oscar Cantu, of the diocese, told the Las Cruces Sun News. “So something similar to the oil I bless and consecrate each year that we use for baptism, for confirmations and for ordination of the priests.”
An investigation is underway to figure out whether there was a natural cause behind the liquid found on the hollow bronze sculpture, Cantu said.
The diocese also examined the interior of the statue and determined nothing there was irregular.
“There’s nothing on the interior that’s not supposed to be there, except for cobwebs,” he told the news outlet. “So we took pictures; we examined it.”
Cantu said he has to look into whether the tears were a hoax, but, he said, “even if it were (a hoax), we are not sure how it would be done, physically. Because it is hardened bronze. We’ve examined the interior, and there’s nothing on the interior.”
If the church does conclude the tears are supernatural, Cantu said it will have to decide if they’re from God or an evil spirit. The diocese said some people who have engaged with the sculpture have reported “beautiful, positive fruits” since their encounter.
“I’ve read most of those written testimonies, and they are stories of tremendous faith, people who have been dealing with terrible suffering in their lives and have felt a tremendous spiritual consolation that Mary walks with us in our tears,” Cantu told the Sun News. “I can’t help but think of my own shedding of tears for the poor people who come to our border, fleeing life-threatening situations. The tears of those children who are separated from their parents. There are many reasons we would shed tears, and God stands with us in those moments.”
Cantu was reassigned last week to a diocese in California. His last day in the southern New Mexico diocese is Sept. 28. But he said one of the final items on his to-do list before he leaves is to take a trip to Hobbs to see the sculpture himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.