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Weeping statue investigation progresses

The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning on an unnamed scientist "poring over the results of a swab ... somewhere in a secret laboratory in Brisbane".

A 700 centimetre-tall statue of the Virgin Mary that is apparently weeping rose-scented oil is being subjected to a Church-sponsored investigation.

"There isn't a handbook for investigating this sort of thing," said Fr Adrian Farrelly, a canon law expert and the priest charged with investigating the statue.

"I've been a priest for 31 years and I've got no recollection of anything happening like this."

Dr Farrelly has put together a small team, comprising a retired professor of chemistry, who is agnostic, and a local lawyer.

While the scientist attempts to work out the origin of the oil, Dr Farrelly is taking statements from witnesses.

"We're looking at the statue to see if it's something, even if it is unusual, that can occur naturally, or something that can be produced by people," he said.

"You don't want things to be labelled miraculous too easily. The archbishop has an overriding concern that people are well directed from a pastoral sense."

Dr Farrelly has not put a deadline on the inquiry, and in any event the church may not make the findings public.

The statue, now back behind glass in the Vietnamese Catholic Community Centre in Inala, south-western Brisbane, has had hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors since a substance looking like blood started seeping from the statue and a crucifix above an altar during Mass at the centre.

Statue still a far cry from miraculous (Sydney Morning Herald 8/6/04)

Retired chemistry professor to examine weeping statues (CathNews 3/6/04)
$1m offer made for Mary tears (The Courier Mail 3/6/04)
Weeping statues, crucifixes - Brisbane church inquiry (Catholic Weekly 6/6/04)
Weeping Mary draws faithful (CathNews 31/5/04)
Inala priest says faith rose to the occasion (The Courier Mail 29/5/04)
Archbishop Bathersby announces weeping statue investigation (CathNews 26/5/04)
Church to investigate 'miracle statue' (The Courier Mail 25/5/04)
Church considers 'weeping' Mary statue probe (ABC 25/5/04)
Church Investigates Weeping Statues (Reuters 25/5/04)
Crowds flock to see 'weeping' religious icons (CathNews 24/5/04)

8 Jun 2004