May is the month of the celebration of Mary. There are many different Marian apparitions which have garnered attention. One such apparition was in the 1950s.
The Weeping Madonna of Syracuse is one of the most unusual of the approved miraculous images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it is one of the latest.
he history of the image begins with the sculptor, Amilcare Santini, who modeled it in three days “under artistic inspiration.” It was made of plaster dissolved in water and poured into a mold and turned out to dry in the sun. it was then sprayed with a varnish to render it suitable for painting.
THE STORY BEGINS
One of the plaques was given as a wedding gift as we said, to Antonina and Angelo Iannuso who were married on March 21, 1953. At the time they were tepid and neglectful christians, they said, but they hung the image with some devotion on the wall behind their bed.
Angelo was a laborer who had taken his bride to live in the home of his brother on Via Degli Orti 11, Syracuse, Sicily. When Antonina discovered she was with child, she was unfortunately afflicted with toxemia that caused her to convulse at times and experience some blindness. At three in the morning on Saturday, August 29, 1953, Antonina suffered a seizure that left her blind. By 8:30 that morning her sight was restored; when she was able to see, her eyes were on the Madonna, which, to Antonina’s amazement was weeping effusive tears. At first the others thought she was hallucinating due to her illness, but Antonina insisted she wasn’t. her family looked again and they could see the tears run down the Madonna’s cheeks and onto the bed. The neighbors were brought in and they confirmed the tears.
One of the many visitors who examined the plaque at close range was Mario Messina, who was highly regarded in the neighborhood. After observing the slow formation of the tears, he removed the image from the wall. looked at it thoroughly and was satisfied that the tears was not the result of an internal reservoir. After the plaque was dried, two tears immediately reappeared. News of the phenomenon spread rapidly throughout the city, bringing crowds that forced their way indoors and gathered in the streets around the house. The security inspector, with the couple’s permission, hung the plaque on the outside of the house to satisfy the curiosity of the people, but later, seeing that the crows showed no sign of diminishing, the picture was taken to the constabulary in an effort to reduce the confusion.
THE MADONNA TRAVELS
The image wept while outside the building and during its transport, but after 40 minutes at the police, when it did not weep, it was returned to the Iannuso home.
On Sunday, August 30 at 2:00 in the morning, the weeping image was placed on a cushion and displayed for the curious who had remained in the street throughout the night. The plaque was nailed above the main door on Monday, and its tears collected by the people on pieces of cloth and wads of cotton. During this time skeptics became convinced, and many of the sick were healed. That same Monday, to protect the plaque from falling, it was brought to an improvised altar outside the home of the Lucca family who lived across the street; after the recitation of the Rosary, it was returned.
Three priests visited the home during this time, one of whom notified the chancery, which assembled a group of clergy, four of scientific background and three for reputable witnesses, to comprise an investigating commission. On the specific instructions of the chancellor, the group met at the Iannuso home on Tuesday, Sept. 1 to study the phenomenon, collecting a sample of tears for analysis. The plaque was examined while it wept and while the liquid collected in the cavity formed by the hand over the heart. The commission examined the smooth finish and found no pores or irregularities on the surface. The backing was removed and the unfinished gypsum was scrutinized and found to be dry, even though tears collected on the reverse. Six coats of nitrocellulose colors were counted on the image; these were covered with varnish. Using a sterilized pipette, a sample of tears was collected, placed in a sterile vial, and taken to the provincial laboratory to be examined by doctors and chemists.
Following this through investigation, the image continued weeping for another 51 minutes, but at 11:40 in the morning the tears stopped, never to be repeated. The sample of tears was scientifically compared to tears from an adult and a child. Following a detailed analysis the doctors reached this conclusion:
the liquid examined is shown to be made up of a watery solution of
sodium chloride in which traces of protein and nuclei of a silver composition
of excretory substances of the quaternary type, the same as found in the
human secretions used as a comparison during the analysis.
The report was dated September 9, 1953 and signed by the examining doctors. Concerning this commission and the various investigations conducted, we must realize that the Church is never in a hurry to pronounce her judgments on such occurrences and that She acts with maximum caution and prudence, ready to affirm miracles only after positive and unquestionable proofs have been extended. Nevertheless, sufficient proofs were apparently given, since a favorable judgment was rendered in a relatively short time.
The Archbishop of Syracuse visited the Iannuso home to examine the image and returned another day to recite the Rosary with the crowd. Various monsignori visited the image, some of whom witnessed the weeping. Many Cardinals expressed interest, while the Archbishop of Palermo, Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini stated:
. . After careful sifting the numerous reports, after having noted the positive results of the
diligent chemical analysis under which the tears gathered were examined, we have
unanimously announced the judgment that the reality of the facts cannot be put in doubt.