A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been reportedly weeping at a southeastern New Mexico church. It was during a noon Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hobbs, on May 20, that some parishioners first noticed liquid on the statue.
I spoke with church manager, Judy Ronquillo, who explained that since their church holds only 250, their noontime Mass is held in the parish hall which holds over 700. “People noticed the statue crying, but they were not sure what they were seeing and didn’t want to interrupt Mass,” Ronquillo explained. “Afterward they took a closer look and saw that Our Lady was crying.”
The pastor, Father Jose “Pepe” Segura explained in this video, that it was not until after Mass that he learned about it. While greeting people outside, someone came up and told him, “Father, come quick! The Virgin Mary is crying!”
Father Pepe took a look for himself and wondered if someone had gotten the statue wet. People wiped the Virgin Mary’s face twice and the tears still appeared. “That’s when I saw that she really was crying,” he said.
Ronquillo was not at the noon Mass but had been at the building and went home when Mass was over. “Our secretary called me to come back, saying: ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe is crying!’” Ronquillo said. She took it as a joke. “I told her, ‘Don’t lie to me. If you want me to come back, I’ll come back but don’t lie to me.”
“I would never lie about something like this,” the secretary insisted.
Ronquillo hurried back to the church hall. “She was crying,” Ronquillo explained. “The more we wiped her tears, the more she cried. We cried with her. Her tears ran down her chest and there was a puddle on the floor.”
The tears were not a water-like substance, according to Ronquillo. “It was more oily and it smelled like roses.” The weeping continued through the day. On Monday, she said that the tears were still visible, but two priests came and wiped the face dry. Then on Tuesday and Thursday, the weeping began again.
People are coming from all over to see the statue and pray the rosary before it, although it has not wept again since May 24. Initially, the building was left open 24-hours a day, but Ronquillo explained that the electric bill was getting too high, so they have cut back the hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
“You have faith and you believe in miracles,” said Ronquillo, “but there’s no words to explain what it feels like when you see a statue crying. When you see this, your faith is stronger.”
Parishioners believe it is a miracle, but the Catholic Church never takes such phenomenon at face value. The Diocese of Las Cruces is conducting an investigation. They have collected samples of the tears to send to a laboratory to examine and the statue will be x-rayed to be sure there’s nothing inside that could cause the tears. You can see video footage here and here is an interview with the artist of the statue, Ricardo Flores-Kaspanis.
Who is Our Lady of Guadalupe?
Our family has been to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe where we got a life-sized image blessed by Pope St. John Paul, which my husband Mark takes with him during his Powerpoint talks about the story. In this article on Integrated Catholic Life, he explained that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico in December 1531 to 56-year-old Juan Diego, a humble mat-weaver. Twelve years before that, the Spanish landed on the east coast of Mexico on Good Friday, April 22, 1519, and celebrated Easter Mass on the shores of Veracruz.
“The Spanish leader, Hernán Cortés, commanded 11 Spanish ships, nearly five hundred soldiers with 20 horses, and a small number of arms and cannons. Cortés and his men had many motives for conquering these lands. Some of the Spanish were looking for gold, silver and other treasures; others were looking to bring people, land, and souls into the Catholic Church. But when these soldiers came face-to-face with the reality of the slaughter of human sacrifice, they were all in agreement to put an end to this culture of blood and death.”
Although the Spanish put an end to the bloody human sacrifices to the Aztec gods, nearly 12 years after the Spanish landed, there had been only limited success converting the Mexicans. By 1531, there were only a few hundred true converts.
After the Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego and left her image on his tilma, that all changed. The image turned out to be the key for the Aztecs to understand the one true God. Through the symbolism in the image, Mary explained her role in the Church and pointed to God. For instance, they knew she was important because she stood in front of the Aztec’s sun god, something no one would dare do, but because her eyes looked down, she was not a god herself. By Mary’s dress, the image shows that she was of royalty from heaven and was both a virgin and with child. Because of that fact, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn.
During that same time period, the Reformation was taking place in Europe and approximately 10 million Catholics left the Church. But by 1541, just 10 years after the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an estimated 10 million people Mexico had converted to Catholicism.
If the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is weeping in New Mexico, it seems especially relevant for our age, given the tragedy of human sacrifice of babies in the womb through abortion, and the number of Catholics that are leaving the faith. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.