Catholics Flock to Crying Virgin Mary Statue

People are flocking to Sacramento’s Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church to see a stain on a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Believers Flock to ‘Crying’ Virgin Mary (AP)

Photo Visitors to the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church, of Sacramento, Calif., gather around a statue of the Virgin Mary that has red stains running from the left eye, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005. According to Anthony Nguyen, a deacon at the Church, the stains first appeared Nov. 9th, but they were washed away. The stains reappeared a week later. Visitors have been coming to the church to see what many call ' a miracle.'(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Carrying rosary beads and cameras, the faithful have been coming in a steady stream to a church on the outskirts of Sacramento for a glimpse of what some are calling a miracle: A statue of the Virgin Mary they say has begun crying a substance that looks like blood. It was first noticed more than a week ago, when a priest at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church spotted a stain on the statue’s face and wiped it away. Before Mass on Nov. 20, people again noticed a reddish substance near the eyes of the white concrete statue outside the small church, said Ky Truong, 56, a parishioner.

Since then, Truong said he has been at the church day and night, so emotional he can’t even work. He believes the tears are a sign. “There’s a big event in the future — earthquake, flood, a disease,” Truong said. “We’re very sad.”

On Saturday, tables in front of the fenced-in statue were jammed with potted plants, bouquets of roses and candles. Some people prayed silently, while others sang hymns and hugged their children. An elderly woman in a wheelchair wept near the front of the crowd. A red trail could be seen from the side of the statue’s left eye to about halfway down the robe of concrete. “I think that it’s incredible. It’s a miracle. Why is she doing it? Is it something bothering her?” asked Maria Vasquez, 35, who drove with her parents and three children from Stockton, about 50 miles south of Sacramento.

Thousands of such incidents are reported around the world each year, though many turn out to be hoaxes or natural phenomena.

Many? How about all?

It astounds me that so many people in the developed world are so starved for supernatural help that they are willing to spend hours worshipping stains on walls, shadows, and other odd phenomena.

Even granting that religious belief requires some degree of faith, this goes against the basic ideals of Christian theology. For one thing, this would seem to violate the Second Commandment:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

More significantly, none of the major religions are about bowing before statues but rather transforming people’s lives. The Catholic Church is (or at least should be) focused on teaching and reinforcing certain ethical norms, doing good works, providing spiritual counsel, and the like. The idea that people should spend their days praying to stained statues is absurd.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. anon says:

    Why does it bother you how people spend their time? I think watching professional sports is a collosal waste of time, but I don’t sit a bitch about it on my blog.

    Few, if any, of these “miracles” are sanctioned by the Church. They look the other way and don’t denounce them, but sort of like me, I think they figure they aren’t hurting anyone, so why bother.

    Oh yes, your Second Commandment reference is used by anti-Catholics to condemn the Crucifix as well. Why not take a swag at that one while you are at it?

  2. leelu says:


    It isn’t really surprising, given the history of appearances and miracles around Mary. My guess is that the people are there because they have hope that this *is* a meaningful occurrence, and *not* some natural phenomenon. (I make no claim either way.) And it would be “Divine help”, not “supernatural”. I believe that all of us, even you, James, could use some of the former.


  3. DL says:

    Amen! leelu, Amen!