Spirit Daily

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In Dossier Of Alleged Oozing Pictures Is Now One Of Australian Up For Sainthood

To the abundant cases of oozing religious articles can be added a picture of Blessed Mary Ellen MacKillop -- the holy Australian nun who is up for what is figured to be certain canonization.

The picture is in Victoria, Australia, about fifty miles from Melbourne, at the home of Julie Zammit -- a 75-year-old woman who received it from nuns when they relocated 12 years ago from the Church of St. James in Richmond.

According to Mrs. Zammit, the secretion, which resembles oil, began last May 7 when she noticed a "streak" on the lower part of the glass fronting the 20-by-14-inch painting [which is not displayed on this page].

Soon, oil covered not only the picture but also the wall behind it, along with other religious items in proximity, including a picture, she says, of Pope Benedict.

The phenomena parallel other cases in which oil allegedly has started on one object and proliferated -- usually to pictures that are in the same room or placed on a makeshift altar. Such reports have come from the United States (Florida, New York, California), Canada, Venezuela, Syria, Ecuador, and a host of other nations -- in some cases exuding in front of a visiting journalist. In at least one instance, a bishop has held a statue as it secreted. That case occurred in Virginia.

The Church is cautious in such matters not only because of the potential for fraud, but also because the exact source of such an exudation, once determined to be supernatural, must still be contemplated. In a number of instances investigators have failed to find a hidden source for the oil nor any form of trickery.

Several years ago, scientists were baffled by tears that flowed from the eyes of a Virgin Mary statue elsewhere in Australia, at Perth -- where apparitions of the Blessed Mother were reported along with the statue and where scientists equipped with sophisticated scanning devices could not find a source for the lachrimation. Mrs. Zammit says that thus far there have been no apparitions or visions.

"I was really amazed," recalls the elderly Australian woman. "A priest told me to put the picture on another wall, but the oil also kept coming out of the original wall. There is always oil. It ebbs and flows. It used to be streaks, but is now a cluster of drops. It is sacred. I don't even touch it."

Thus far, the incidence has garnered little local attention. But Mrs. Zammit says her grandson was healed of a drug problem in a way that she associates with the events.

Although there have been no visions or other phenomena, Mrs. Zammit -- whose case was forwarded to us by a fellow parishioner who witnessed the pictures -- says there was an instance when a drop of liquid somehow turned up in a sealed envelope containing a novena to Blessed Mary MacKillop. On another occasion, she says, a cut flower that normally would wilt within several days stayed fresh near the portrait for about two weeks.

Thus far, there is no official diocesan investigation. Mrs. Zammit did not initiate contact with Spirit Daily and has not sought to publicize the event. Few have been by to see it, says the Australian woman, who explained that a priest to whom she reported the matter has not had time to stop by and view the alleged phenomenon.

It is not known if there is significance to the May 7 date.

Mary Ellen MacKillop was born in Melbourne in 1842. Her father, Alexander, was educated in Rome for the priesthood but left before his ordination and decided to migrate to Australia, where he arrived in 1838 in Sydney.

The eldest in her family, Blessed Mary was educated in private schools and became a school teacher and governess known for helping the poor.

Along with a priest named Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods, she founded the Sisters of St. Joseph, an order of teachers. In 1867 she became the first sister, and soon mother superior, of the new order. She died in 1909 and was beatified on January 19, 1995, by John Paul II. She is also known as Blessed Mary of the Cross.

"She was Mary of the Cross, and her cross took many forms ill health, frequent long journeys in primitive conveyances on land and sea in oppressive weather, the writing of thousands of letters, struggles to obtain the necessities of life, the hardships of real poverty," noted L'Osservatore Romano, a Vatican-associated newspaper

"But her most distressing crosses came from people, sometimes in high places. What she suffered is sometimes astonishing to read (as when she was falsely excommunicated), but more astonishing is the story of her charity and forbearance towards those who were unjust to her. She judged nobody, she blamed nobody, she was never heard to utter a word of criticism or bitterness, and her reverence for the sacred character of priests and bishops was never diminished. She always tried to excuse those who had wronged her, called attention to their good qualities, and reminded the sisters of favors received from them in the past."

1/23/07

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