Since World War II (19391945), a relatively new phenomenon
has begun to manifest in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox
churches. Statues and pictures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin
Mary, and the saints have appeared to bleed, and they
bleed in significant ways, from the hands or the brow, places
where Christ was wounded during His last days on Earth, or
from the eyes, as if weeping. While such phenomena had been
reported since antiquity, in the twentieth century such reports
have taken on added significance in light of the attack on supernatural
occurrences in the contemporary secular world. The
number of such incidents has increased decade by decade during
the last half of the century. Many traditional religionists
Bleeding Statues Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
view such miraculous occurrences as the bleeding statues and
pictures in much the same way as Spiritualists view mediumistic
phenomena, as a demonstration of a supernatural world.
Typical of such reports is the small statue of the Virgin Mary
belonging to Olga Rodriguez, a woman in Santiago, Chile, that
on November 14, 1992, began to bleed from its eyes. The people
who began to stop by the Rodriquez home alerted police to
the phenomenon, and the local Criminal Investigation Department
took samples of the liquid for analysis. It turned out to
be type-O blood. That same year similar reports came from
Lake Ridge, Virginia, where a priest, Fr. James Bruse of St.
Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, reported cold weather caused
statues of the Virgin Mary to weep tears of blood. Not only had
many parishoners seen the primary statue at St. Elizabeth Ann
Seton Church weep blood, but various other statues that Bruse
had been standing near. A third incident occurred in San
Tomas, Mexico. It was first seen by a young girl praying before
the statue for the healing of her mother. Returning home, she
found her mother up and fixing supper, the first time she had
been out of bed in three months.
In 1994, stories came from Ireland, Australia, and Puerto
Rico. In 1996 reports came from Trinidad and Kansas, and in
1997, from Benin (Africa). Through the decade more than a
dozen cases appeared in Italy alone. Blood from a statue of the
Virgin in Las Vegas that began bleeding in 1998 has been
caught on pieces of cotton and given away to the faithful. It has
been tied to a number of healings.
As with the case in Chile, many of these cases have been investigated
at least minimally, and the substance oozing from
the pictures or statues is indeed blood, though the type of
blood varies from incident to incident. Many have been seen by
large groups and have occurred in such a way that the more obvious
means of faking the phenomena have been ruled out.
Nevertheless, few of the cases have been given what might be
thought of as a thorough investigation.
Possibly the most spectacular modern case of a bleeding
statue occurred in Akita, Japan, where a statue of the Virgin
Mary wept, perspired, and bled from the right hand in what appeared
to be a cross-shaped wound. This case passed a rigorous
investigation by local scientists, the local diocesan authorities,
and the Vatican. The phenomena were associated with the stigmata
and three apparitions of the Virgin Mary received by a
deaf Japanese Roman Catholic nun, Sister Agnes Sasagawa.
Skeptics such as Joe Nickell have suggested that many of the
bleeding statues and pictures are due to conscious hoaxing and
point to two prominent early cases as evidence. In the 1850s a
picture of Jesus that bled belonged to Rose Tamisier, a French
woman known in her village for her miracles, apparitions of
the Virgin Mary, and stigmata. On November 10, 1850, she reportedly
caused a picture of Christ to emit blood. Investigators
examined the picture and initially pronounced the phenomenon
genuine. However, this incident lost much of its impact
when the following year Tamisier was charged with imposture
and in a formal trial found guilty.
In 1914, psychical researcher Everard Fielding
(18671936) investigated a more impressive case, a set of incidents
that had begun some three years previously around Abbé
Vachere in the town of Mirebeau-en-Poitou, France. Abbé
Vachere claimed that a picture he owned bled, a statue at a
nearby grotto sweated blood, and Eucharistic wafers he had
consecrated (believed by Catholics to be the very body of
Christ) dripped blood. In 1914, church authorities asked that
the picture be turned over to them. After complying with their
request, Abbé Vachere revealed a second picture like the first
that also began to bleed. Fielding had samples of the substance
analyzed in England. It proved to be blood.
Fielding returned to follow up his earlier investigation.
However, this time he discovered that the church had reason
to doubt the veracity of the priest and had excommunicated
him. Fielding took added precautions and discovered the former
Abbé in a hoax, though he had trouble accepting the facts,
given the kindly demeanor of the elderly priest.
While skeptics have attempted a full reduction of the incidents
of bleeding statues and pictures to the mundane, either
deliberate hoaxing, an unusual natural phenomenon, or hallucination,
parapsychologists have attempted to take the bleeding
objects out of the supernatural realm and explain them psychically.
In a large percentage of cases where an adequate
investigation has been made, hoaxing has been detected.
There are so many ways in which even amateurs have produced
a seemingly spectacular flow of blood, that bleeding statues appear
to hold within conservative Roman Catholic circles much
the same position that materialization phenomena hold within
Spiritualism. Apart from obvious hoaxing, the most common
explanations relate them to poltergeists andor psychokinetic
The marked increase of phenomena such as the apparitions
of the Virgin Mary and the bleeding and weeping statues and
icons, the reports of which have primarily circulated in Roman
Catholic circles, have been discussed in New Age circles as a
further sign of the coming changes in human consciousness
that many expect. Benjamin Creme, the head of Share International,
has held up the phenomena as a further herald of the
coming of Maitreya, and attributes them to the combined and
coordinated efforts of the ascended masters.
Nickell, Joe. Looking for a Miracle. Amherst, N.Y. Prometheus
Rogo, Scott. Miracles A Parascientific Inquiry into Wondrous
Phenomena. New York Dial Press, 1982.