Thursday, March 04, 2004

Weeping Statue of Mary at Church Due to Close

Now overwhelmed with crowds... in the Boston Archdiocese.

From The Boston Globe:

Two weeks ago, a delivery man told a rectory worker that the life-sized statue outside the red-brick church near Tufts University was weeping. By yesterday at noon, the devout and the curious were arriving at the statue every few minutes.

"I think she's crying because this church may close," said Stephanie Pucillo of Medford, who visited the statue yesterday during her lunch break after her mother told her about it. "Is it real? I don't know. But the timing is ironic, with everything that's going on."

Last month, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley informed all the 357 parishes that due to dwindling Mass attendance, a shortage of priests, and financial constraints, some churches would be forced to close by the end of the year. He instructed priests and parish officials to meet and identify which parishes ought to be slated for closing.

The five Catholic parishes in Medford have decided that if one of them must close, it should be St. James Parish, and if two churches must close, then Sacred Heart Church has been recommended, according to Sacred Heart's church bulletin.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, the archdiocesan spokesman, was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

But Sacred Heart's pastor, the Rev. Robert Doherty, said: "The statute is not weeping. It's just an outdoor statute."

He said that streams of water have been rolling down the statue's face from one or both eyes. Doherty said that given all the troubles that the Catholic churches has faced lately, from the sex-abuse scandal to the proposed church closings, it makes sense that devout Catholics believe the statue is weeping. "I think the Blessed Mother is crying, but I don't think the statue is," he said.

Doherty said the statue has been in front of the church for years, and until recently, it was entirely white. About two years ago, a parishioner added blue hues to the icon's robe, and flesh colored paint to its face.