Statue of Our Lady of Grace weeps Medford, Massachusetts
2004 - Reported in the Boston Herald.com. Written by Jules Crittenden.Tears
of Mary: Medford faithful say statue weeps. On
her pedestal by a busy Medford street, the faithful say, the Blessed
Virgin is weeping. Two grayish discolorations running down the cheeks
of Our Lady of Grace, the painted 6-foot-tall statue in front of
Sacred Heart Church in Medford, are the tracks of Mary's tears,
Tufts Daily.com. Written by Katharine Clark. Parishioners of Sacred
Heart Church in Medford believe that a miracle has occurred: the
statue of Mary outside the parish's rectory now appears to have
tears running down her cheeks.
The tears were first observed Feb. 9. "People feel that the face has the appearance of tears coming down from the eyes. It was never that way, the statue has always been just white-washed in the face," Doherty said. Believers in the tears have different theories about the statue's grief. Many parishioners believe Mary may be weeping because two Boston area parishes, possibly Sacred Heart, may be closed down. The archdiocese will make a final decision on the closings in May. At a meeting on Sunday night in Medford, it was decided that should these closings be necessary in Medford, the first church to close will be St. James, followed by Sacred Heart.
However, Doherty feels that "it more likely may be because there are priests abusing children that there is a sadness and a weeping in her face." Parishioner Ginny Del Signori and her daughters painted the statue two and a half years ago with standard outdoor paint from Home Depot. "I know for a fact that those marks were not there until two weeks ago this Monday," Del Signori said. "I do a lot of volunteer work at the church and I always looked at the statue to make sure it didn't need any touching up." While many are quick to call it a miracle, the face's streaked appearance may be a result of dripping from a steam pipe on the roof two stories above, ice melted in the recent rain, or a defect in the paint.
is "why the church authorities are very careful" to declare
any unexplained event a miracle, Doherty said. "Most people
here say that it's crying, but the painter two years ago definitely
did not paint that." Del Signori agreed. "My own relatives
have said maybe it's just the ice that melted off in the rain, but
I think there's no way. Why is it just in those two spots, why would
it just have streaked in those two spots? There is no place else
on the statue that there are any marks."
authorities determine that the streaks are real tears, the Vatican
must decide the procedure for recognition. Doherty referenced the
recent investigation of a statue in Italy whose tears were decided
to be human. "After the tests, then the Catholic church may
label it something officially, but for now, it's up to people to
decide for themselves," Doherty said.
Many are forced to question their own beliefs upon seeing the tears. "A stone statue, crying -- impossible!" Cacciola said of her initial reaction. "The whole thing is odd on both sides. Is it a defect? You have to look at the skeptical side, but to me, there are no other marks on that whole statue. It's like she cried and it just stained her face." Whether or not the Vatican decides to officially recognize the tears as an apparition, Sacred Heart's wish is that "it brings people some hope," Doherty said. "People should come and see and experience it. You really have to experience it. It's up to us to make a change here." Del Signori and other parishioners would like to see the area marked by a monument or shrine, but doubt this would actually occur. "I don't think that will happen unless we have positive proof," she said. "I would like to see the area preserved, and have people come, because she's obviously trying to tell us something."
March 1, 2004 - Medford Mary's miracle tears help some find deeper message.
Reported in the Boston Herald.com. Written by Jules Crittenden. "I physically felt her crying. I could tell inside she was sad," said Ginny DelSignore, 50, who painted the statue two years ago and believes it is a miracle. "I got a personal message. This is a sad world. But God does not have just one message."
Joseph Tassone, 74, came prepared to be skeptical: "I thought maybe it was planted. But I don't think so. It gives me a closer feeling. She's watching over us. She's trying to tell us something. What it is may come at a later date."His wife, Regina Tassone, 53, said, "She wants people to come together, to believe. It's amazing, absolutely amazing, in our little town."
spokesman said the church has not yet investigated the claim of
a miracle, which was first noticed Feb. 9. Yesterday, dozens came,
some wiping cloths or holding religious medals to the statue. Linda
Withma, 52, who came from Groton, said,"`I don't have the words
to describe what I'm thinking or feeling, but I like what I'm seeing.
I didn't know people were this awake (to their faith). If this is
what it takes . . ."
March 4, 2004
- To believers, statue sheds tears of woe.
Reported in the Boston Herald.com. Written by Christine McConville. As Catholics brace themselves for what's sure to be a painful series of parish closings, there's talk of a miracle at Sacred Heart Church in Medford: people are flocking to a statue of the Virgin Mary they say is shedding tears.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.
The church has remained open during the day to handle the crowds. At the Espresso Pizza nearby, employee Chris Hernon said the weeping statue is "the talk of the town." He said he has watched people stop by at all hours of the day, and night. "We close at 3 in the morning, and they are out there even then, getting a look," Hernon said. Yesterday, there were a dozen people praying in the church, and another dozen outside in front of the statue. The base was covered with bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, and candles. Rosary beads dangle from its hands.
For a while, people also were leaving money, but Doherty posted a sign asking people not to leave the donations." We are not in debt," he said, "and the [proposed] closing has nothing to do with the weeping statue."
July 26, 2004 - Medford church closes its doors.
Reported in Boston.com. Written by Christine McConville. More than 400 attend last Mass. Medford - The pastor of Sacred Heart Parish fashioned his Mass after an Irish wake, with plenty of storytelling and laughter. The Rev. Robert Doherty wanted to ease the sting of the tears yesterday as he officiated at the last-ever Mass for the parish.
This tiny church in Medford's Hillside neighborhood, at the edge of Tufts University, officially ended at noon yesterday its 65-year history as a parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, the first of at least 68 parishes expected to close between now and December. More than 400 people attended the emotional, hourlong celebration in the church, which had standing room only. Before the parishioners closed their parish doors for the last time, they gave Doherty three standing ovations.
Today, the 62-year-old pastor will celebrate a 9 a.m. Mass in his new parish, St. John's in Beverly.The future of the Sacred Heart Parish property has not been decided yet, but many parishioners predict that it will become part of Tufts. Yesterday, though, their attention was not on real estate. They attended the Mass to celebrate and grieve for a beloved parish and an equally beloved pastor. "He's been wonderful to me," Rose Kimball, an 89-year-old retired schoolteacher, said of Doherty, a former prison chaplain.
The closings will be done in three waves. Although the archdiocese had told parishes in that first wave to close by Sept. 1, Doherty opted to close now, to give parishioners time to find a new parish in the typically slow summer months. Most Sacred Heart parishioners plan to join St. Clement Parish in Somerville, but Kimball, who has walked to morning Mass here almost every day for 52 years, isn't sure where she will wind up. " I don't know what I am going to do," she said. "No one has offered me a ride yet."
For the parish's final Mass, Doherty replaced the green robe usually worn for Sunday Mass with a crisp white one, adorned with a rose and a cross, symbols of hope and love, he said. As ushers passed out prayer cards, Doherty encouraged parishioners to hold on to their memories of Sacred Heart. He told them that they were his family and that in families "the language of love is also the language of sacrifice."
"When I look out at everyone here," he said from the altar, " I am looking at my family. It is vibrant and full of energy, and there are so many beautiful, beautiful people here." Parishioners carried out the parish books that recorded years of church weddings and funerals and then spent an hour in front of the church, eating cake and making plans to visit Father Bob at his new parish. In the parking lot, after the Mass, Kathleen Heck, an archdiocesan official who is coordinating the parish closings, told parishioners that the pain they were feeling would be a source of strength in their new parishes. " What has been so hard on you will be a gift to your new parish," she said.
Before they left, many people paid a final visit to the parish's life-sized statue of Our Lady of Grace, a cement creation that many people say has been weeping. The devout say the water stains on the statue's face are tears for the tremendous changes occurring in the archdiocese. Doherty said that another parish would probably claim the statue. If not, he said, he'll take it to Beverly with him.
Parish 51 Winthrop street Medford, MA 02155
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