LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — The Las Cruces Catholic Diocese, the governing body of all Catholic churches in southern New Mexico, is investigating a statue of the Virgin Mary at a Hobbs church that appears to be shedding tears.

Parishioners say recently tears have streamed down the face of the statue at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. The church has since become a destination for travelers to see what many have called a miracle.

One person wrote on the church’s Facebook page that he drove from Denver to see the statue.

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The diocese will first try to determine if the tears are a supernatural occurrence, Bishop Oscar Cantu said. This part of the probe includes laboratory tests of the liquid believed to be tears, eyewitness interviews and scrutiny of possible natural causes, including human tampering.

It is unclear how long the investigation will take to complete.

But if the diocese concludes the tears are a supernatural phenomenon, officials will then try to decipher the underlying message, Cantu said.

“If it is supernatural, then is it God? Or is it of an evil spirit? We do believe in the fallen angels,” he said, “and we renounce the fallen angels because we believe from the scriptures that they’re frustrated and they want to make everyone else frustrated — and sometimes they use things, they can be rather cunning,” the bishop continued.

“So that would be other piece: What are the fruits? If it’s from God, it’s going to produce positive fruits of joy, of peace, of healing — perhaps physical healing,” Cantu said.

Cantu said he views the overwhelming response to the statue as a sign that people are looking for “peace or direction in their lives,” or “illumination in their lives.”