Perth Archbishop announces inquiry into weeping Madonna statue
Investigators have been asked to prove if a weeping statue of the Virgin Mary in Western Australia is an act of God or a fake religious curiosity.
The inquiry into the "miracle" is unprecedented in Australia, according to the Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey.
Scientists from two Perth universities have already tested the 70cm sculpture, but were unable to find the source of the rose-scented oil that trickles from its eyes.
Fr Finbarr Walsh, from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Rockingham, south of Perth, where the statue is displayed, has been inundated with requests from around the world for samples of the liquid.
Archbishop Hickey now wants to know if the statue is merely an interesting curiosity or a miraculous symbol of Christianity.
"The phenomenon has been going on for more than three months now," he Hickey said. "The faithful and the community at large are entitled to as clear a statement as I can make, about whether the tears can be explained by some natural process or human intervention, or whether they defy scientific explanation."
Archbishop Hickey has appointed a team of three, one a non-Catholic, to find out why the Madonna has been "crying" for the past 100 days.
The investigators are scientist and non-Catholic, Dr Thelma Koppi, Fr Kevin Long and surgeon Michael Shanahan.
"The three will arrange whatever scientific test they consider necessary," Archbishop Hickey said. "As well as their own scientific, theological and historical expertise, they will be able to take suggestions from anyone in the scientific community who has ideas on what would be needed to determine whether the phenomenon can be explained."
Miracle attributed to Perth statue tears (29/10/02)
Tests on crying Madonna fail to show hoax (13/9/02)
Tests show weeping statue of Virgin Mary is no hoax (Catholic Weekly 29/9/02)
Weeping statue put to the Test (Today Tonight 12/9/02)
A suburban miracle (Today Tonight 9/9/02)
Expert pours cold water on Perth's miracle Madonna (Ananova)
Weeping Statue (Catholic Weekly 22/9/02)
Why weepest thou (Editorial, Catholic Weekly 29/9/02)
25 Nov 2002