LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — The Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces continues to investigate a Virgin Mary sculpture in a Hobbs church that appears to be weeping.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Bishop Oscar Cantu of the diocese said Friday a sample of the fluid collected from the sculpture was sent for chemical analysis and it was determined that it was olive oil.
“And we determined it was olive oil, a scented olive oil,” he said. “Some of the witnesses claimed it smelled of roses, so something similar to the oil I bless and consecrate each year that we use for baptism, for confirmations and for ordination of the priests.”
That fact doesn’t preclude the occurrence from being deemed a Church miracle. But an investigation is still underway.
Cantu says the investigation entails trying to determine whether there was a natural cause behind the liquid found on the hollow bronze sculpture.
“We examined the interior of the hollow statue,” Cantu said. “There’s nothing on the interior that’s not supposed to be there, except for cobwebs. So we took pictures; we examined it.”
Cantu told the Las Cruces Sun-News that Church officials also contacted the manufacturers to check if any wax or other material could have been left over from the casting of the statue.
“In that process, they assured us there would be no possibility of any moisture to remain in the bronze,” the bishop said. “So those are some of the facts that we have established.”
The sculpture, which stands in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, has been attracting attention since visitors first reported the fluid in May.
Cantu told the newspaper that even if the tears were a hoax, “we are not sure how it would be done, physically … because it is hardened bronze. We’ve examined the interior, and there’s nothing on the interior.”
Cantu also said that even if the cause is supernatural, the Church must discern whether the origin is from God or an evil spirit.
“I’ve read most of those written testimonies, and they are stories of tremendous faith, people who have been dealing with terrible suffering in their lives and have felt a tremendous spiritual consolation that Mary walks with us in our tears,” the bishop told the Las Cruces Sun-News.
“I can’t help but think of my own shedding of tears for the poor people who come to our border, fleeing life-threatening situations. The tears of those children who are separated from their parents. There are many reasons we would shed tears, and God stands with us in those moments,” he added.
The Vatican announced last Wednesday that Pope Francis had appointed Cantu as the coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California. He is expected to leave for his new post in September.
He told the newspaper that he will continue the investigation until he leaves, and he also plans on visiting Hobbs to finally look at the statue himself.
Crux staff contributed to this report.