Aman named Fabio Gregori of Civitavecchia, near Rome, became extremely devout after surviving an automobile crash in 1993. To aid in his devotions, his priest Father Pablo gave him a 17-inch replica of the statue of the Madonna that now stands in Medjugorje, Bosnia. Father Pablo blessed the statuette with holy water and told Gregori that Mary would be his guardian. Reverently, Gregori placed the image in a niche in the backyard grotto that he had created for his family's prayers.
On February 2, 1995, Gregori and his wife were getting ready to attend church when their daughter ran into the house shouting that the statue was crying tears of blood. The statue of Mother Mary wept tears of blood for the next four days. Soon the grotto was overrun by thousands people. Many soaked handkerchiefs in the blood, and some claimed that they were healed of their afflictions after wiping the blood on their bodies.
When word of the miracle reached Bishop Girolamo Grillo, he requested that the statue be turned over to the church for scientific examination. Gregori willingly complied, and the commission assembled by Bishop Grillo conducted an extensive examination of the statue, which included X-rays and a CAT scan.
Bishop Grillo admitted his initial skepticism, but when the commission found no evidence of trickery and determined that the tears were composed of human blood, he had changed his mind.
After the examination, the tears of blood ceased. But thousands of pilgrims continued to seek healing and inspiration from the statuette, and it was placed in the St. Agostino church in Pantano, near Civitavecchia.
Bishop Grillo's conversion to the authenticity of the weeping Madonna did little to quiet the accusations of fraud that had begun to arise from skeptics. Amid the controversy, Fabio Gregori and his family were named often as the most likely instigators of the deception. In spite of his denials, skeptics continued their investigations of the weeping Madonna.
Later, a DNA examination of the bloodstains revealed that they were from a male, and researchers argued that if the tears were the Madonna's blood, they should have come from a female. Gregori was suspected of placing drops of his own blood upon the statuette. Bishop Grillo said it had bled when it was far away from Gregori; he stated that the male blood was Jesus', not Mother Mary's, which resulted in the critics accusing Bishop Grillo of perpetrating a "pious fraud."
Although it will perhaps remain a subject of controversy, each year the statuette attracts thousands of pilgrims and is said to be responsible for scores of miracles.
Kirsta, Alix. "The Crying Game." The Guardian, 18 December 2000.
Steiger, Brad and Sherry Hansen Steiger. Mother Mary Speaks to Us. New York: Dutton, 1996.
Weeping Statues Archive. http://www.mcn.org/1/miracles/weeping.html. 24 October 2001.