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Weeping Mary withdrawn from church display

A statue of the Virgin Mary - the subject of scientific tests after apparently "weeping" an oil-like substance - has been taken off display at a Perth outer suburban church.

The fibreglass Madonna attracted thousands of worshippers to Our Lady of Lourdes church after revelations that it began to "cry" on 19 March last year, during the feast of St Joseph, and then over the four days of Easter. From 15 August, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Our Heaven, it wept continuously until mid-January.

In September, scientists from two Perth universities tested the statue but were unable to find the source of its reported weeping. Murdoch University chemist Doug Clarke said he believed the "tears" were fake but could find no proof that the Madonna had not wept.

He said the tears were a vegetable oil, likely olive, scented with a rose-oil mix. Curtin University X-ray expert Rob Hart found no cavity or sign of fluid inside the statue, although he reported an unexplained mass at the statue's feet.

Keen to try to uncover a definitive answer, Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey then handpicked a team of three people - a non-Catholic scientist, a priest and a surgeon - to arrange scientific tests.

The Archbishop is now examining the findings of the tests. He said yesterday the statue has been withdrawn from display in the interim.

"The parish priest will be absent from the parish for a while and I thought it wise to cease public veneration pending conclusion of my consideration of the investigations," he said.

The West Australian

Virgin Mary weeps while making last public appearance (ABC)
Weeping Mary removed from church (AFP)
Moment of truth for weeping statue devotees (2/12/02)
Medical scan for crying statue (Sunday Times)
Perth Archbishop announces inquiry into weeping Madonna statue (25/11/02)
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)

18 Feb 2003