Is a Virgin Mary statue really crying or weeping olive oil in Hobbs, New Mexico? What’s the explanation? It sounds fantastical – and it’s unclear whether it’s a miracle or there is some other explanation – but it’s really under investigation by the Catholic Church.
The statue in question, which is also called Our Lady of Guadalupe, is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, and the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces is investigating reports from parishioners that the statue sometimes weeps. Hobbs is a community of about 34,000 people in Lea County, New Mexico. Liquid on the sculpture, which made Mary appear to be crying tears, was first reported in May, according to Santa Fe New Mexican, which reports that the statue stands in Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Local Bishop Says It Was Determined That the Substance Was Olive Oil & the Church Stresses It’s Looking for the Truth
Bishop Oscar Cantú presides over the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, which includes Hobbs. He says the substance was tested and proven to have the substance of olive oil. How it got there is still under investigation. The church has released several photos of the crying statue on Facebook. The Catholic church is located at 914 S. Selman, Hobbs, New Mexico.
According to The Las Cruces Sun News, “a sample of the fluid collected from the sculpture was sent for chemical analysis.”
“And we determined it was olive oil, a scented olive oil,” the bishop told the newspaper. “Some of the witnesses claimed it smelled of roses, 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.”
According to The Washington Post, the substance, when blessed, “would be chrism, a sacred oil used in the Catholic Church to anoint parishioners.”
Others aren’t so sure. The olive oil finding has caused some news anchors to joke about “extra virgin olive oil.”
But the church’s parishioners are certain it’s a miracle. The church also has a Facebook page in Spanish. The translation for a post on that page from the church on July 17, 2018 reads, “Dear everyone! We’ve never had the need to lie in anything related to the image. The Bishop has just said that investigations continue and that the origin of a possible miracle is not eliminated. We will always seek a straight and good devotion to the blessed virgin of Guadalupe. It should be mentioned that the event happened during mass and there was no chance of putting anything before or during mass. This fact shows a lot of people and three priests. His testimonies are in writing. We’re open to any check and we’re also looking for the truth.”
The Statue’s Tears Were First Noticed in May 2018
The Washington Post spoke with Judy Ronquillo, the church’s business manager, and she told the newspaper that parishioners at the church first noticed “that there appeared to be tears streaming from the Virgin Mary’s eyes” on May 20, 2018, which is Pentecost Sunday. The weeping has since been noticed several other times, she told the Post.
The priest in the parish is named Rev. Jose Segura, and Ronquillo translated in Spanish for him. He told the newspaper that he has been a priest for 12 years but “has never seen anything like it and that he first struggled to believe it was real.” Ronquillo insisted the church has video cameras and they haven’t come up with any man-made explanation thus far, the newspaper reported.
According to The Post, Deacon Jim Winder, vice chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, “said there was enough liquid — about 500 milliliters — that it had run down the statue.”
Laura Cisneros told the Sun News in May 2018 that she and her husband were attending Mass when she noticed the tears.
“I turned to my husband and asked him, ‘Does the Virgin Mary have tears?’” she said to the newspaper.
The priest, who is also known as Father Pepe, told the Sun News that, when the tears were first spotted, “people wiped the Virgin Mary’s face twice and the tears still appeared.”
“That’s when I saw that she really was crying,” Father Pepe said to the newspaper. “I think it’s a reminder for all of us to get closer to God and to stop being violent and unite us. We need to be independent of the creed for our race, for our language and remember there is something more superior.”
The Source of the Olive Oil Tears Is Not Clear
Where are the olive oil tears coming from? Is it a miracle or a hoax? That’s not clear. Cantú says church officials first attempted to see whether the liquid had a natural origin, according to USA Today. The bronze sculpture is hollow inside, the newspaper reported, so the diocese “carried out a thorough examination of the sculpture, also referred to as the Virgin of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
“We examined the interior of the hollow statue,” Cantú said, according to USA Today. “There’s nothing on the interior that’s not supposed to be there, except for cobwebs. So we took pictures; we examined it.”
The Mexican manufacturer of the statue was contacted, USA Today reported, because officials wanted to rule out the possibility the manufacturing process left behind the fluid. However, they ruled that possibility out, the newspaper reported, quoting Cantú as saying, “In that process, they assured us there would be no possibility of any moisture to remain in the bronze. So those are some of the facts that we have established.” The bishop has been reassigned to a California diocese for unrelated reasons, and the statue’s tears are still being investigated.
People Are Traveling in Droves to See the Statue
Whether the explanation is clear or not seems immaterial to the members of the faithful who journeyed to see the statue. Thousands of people have flocked to Hobbs to see the statue.
“Me and my brother went to Hobbs New Mexico to go see or Virgin Mary it was hot but it was worth it,” wrote one man on Facebook.
“In Hobbs crying virgin Mary,” wrote another man. However, another man wrote on the church’s Facebook page that he suspected it’s a fraud, writing, “This is a fraud being perpetrated to get attention. Put video cameras around the statue 24 hrs around the clock with security guards and watch the oil dry up! Luke 17:23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. Matthew 24:23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.”
But there are true believers. “Visited from Houston. The most beautiful experience ever. Thank you blessed mother and thank you to the congregation for making us welcomed. God bless you all!” wrote a woman on the page.
A 1995 article by the Independent reported that there had been a “sharp increase in the sightings of weeping madonnas, from Ireland to Croatia,” even back then, but the church only recognized a weeping Virgin Mary statue in the town of Siracusa in Sicily. One scientist told The Independent he had found a way to create the effect of tears, however, in that case.