Images and Icons Archive
In the tiny Antiochian Orthodox Church of St Mary, in the far western suburb of Mt Pritchard, Sydney, Australia, a miracle happens every day. Since the end of August, a life-sized icon of the Christ is exuding pure olive oil. It forms in beads all over the painted surface of the icon, and is captured in receptacles and on wads of cotton wool laid at the base. So far since it began, more than three litres of the oil has been collected. The priests anoint all who come to the church, and there are hundreds flocking there every day. The oil has been tested at a laboratory in Sydney, and without a doubt it is pure olive oil! The icon was painted in the usual way, on hardwood, and was shipped out to Australia about seven years ago. Nothing unusual happened until a decision was made to demolish the church and build a larger one in another location. Two days later the icon started to ooze oil, to the utter amazement of the clergy.
Several members of the Sydney and Canberra meditation groups have witnessed the phenomenon, and have also noted that the oil has an aroma of roses. Several healings have been said to have taken place, and Archbishop Gibran has asked that if a healing is claimed to have occurred a prior medical record should be produced.
In another Orthodox Church, about two kilometres from St Mary's, an icon of the Madonna is gradually renewing itself. Unlike the icon of the Christ, which was painted in one of the Greek Islands only seven years ago, the icon of the Madonna is about one hundred years old, and was painted in Russia. During the Russian Revolution it was caught in a fire, and totally blackened. Subsequently, it was smuggled out of Russia and taken to China, where there were many refugees from the Revolution. Years later, still in its blackened state, it was brought to Australia, and placed in the Intercession of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church, Cabramatta, where it remains. Father Peter, when he came to the church in 1981, remembers that the icon was still in its blackened state, showing no colour at all. Since then, the icon has been gradually renewing itself. The original colour is coming back, revealing the beauty and form of the Madonna and the Child Jesus.
Katseas said he believes the phenomenon is a holy prophecy. "It means something good or bad will happen soon ... but it (the weeping icon) has powers to heal the sick, too."
He said the tears
are being collected and preserved in a bottle. Visitors are allowed
to smell the fragrance before they pray. One worshipper said: "This
is a message coming down from heaven. It's a message from God."
Next day, the parish priest, Antoine Jammal, took the icon (fixed in a wooden frame) and returned in the afternoon with the icon framed in aluminium and glazed.
"Last Sunday," Father Antoine told the newspaper Al-Anwar, "while we were celebrating the mass (taking place as usual between 6 and 6.30pm), one of the girls singing out prayers to the Holy Virgin suddenly ceased her chant and approached the icon, and saw oil flowing out of the eyes. The believers left their seats and gathered around the icon to be blessed by it. We continued the mass and around 10.30pm the oil was really covering the entire surface of the icon. We slept that night in the church," said Father Antoine. "The 'oil-flowing' phenomenon has now stopped," he added. (Source: Al-Anwar, Lebanon)
The picture of the man, clad in white garment with a lamb on the right hand side and a staff in his left hand appeared on the wall with light shining around the area, attracting various people to the scene.
Reports said the picture disappeared after 10 minutes but stayed for several hours on the wall on a second appearance. It was also gathered that after the second appearance the head of the man with a long beard appeared for a longer period.
According to the deputy headmaster of the school, Mr Bassey Itaya, the fingerprint of the man is still visible on the wall of elementary 3A classroom. Mr Itaya said that people from all walks of life thronged the school premises to have a glimpse of the mysterious picture on the wall which remained like a television screen throughout the scene.
The councillor representing
the ward in Akamkpa Local Government, Mr Lawrence Effa, who was also
present, described the incident as the first in the history of the area,
saying that he was confused. He wondered what was the significance of
the picture on the wall.
Parishioners at Mother of God church in the mining town of Kirovsk said the transformation took place over several days, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
"Its darkened and faded colours began to brighten up. In a few days, it was hard to recognize the old icon,'' the head of the local religious affairs department, Vladimir Kisenko, was quoted as saying.
"It looked quite
new, as if it had been freshly painted.'' Kirovsk is about 50 miles
above the Arctic Circle near the port of Murmansk.
Hana traces the miraculous events to a woman named Myrna Nazoor from Syria. In 1982, Nazoor began exhibiting healing powers and having visions of the Virgin Mary. Each time Nazoor prays, her hands fill with olive oil, according to Reverend Hana. The oil is used for healing purposes. In 1988, one of Nazoor's icons seeped 57 gallons of olive oil. A sample was sent to a German laboratory, who reported the liquid to be 100 per cent olive oil, no impurities. "That means it's a miracle," says Hana. "Only a miracle could make olive oil so pure."
That same year, Nazoor visited Hana. She brought along a photo of her icons, and Hana made 8,000 copies, both by photocopying and by photographing it. "Many of these have exuded oil," Hana says. He believes this phenomenon is a continuation of the Syrian miracle, which representatives of at least three Orthodox churches have confirmed.
Hana says his icons
are "a sign from God. He's saying, 'Hey, I really exist.'"
The Eastern Orthodox Church, which has less stringent "requirements" for the miraculous than the Roman Catholic Church, has officially deemed two occurrences as miracles in the Chicago area: the weeping icon of Mary at St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois, and a small paper copy of that same icon, also said to be weeping this year. The copy was said by the Bishop Demetri Khoury to be an "extension" of the first miracle.
The article listed other phenomena in the Chicago area that have been deemed miracles by those who have seen them:
"A wooden statue of Mary at St John of God Church on the Southwest Side appeared to shed tears in 1984. More than a year later, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago said: "We are not able to eliminate the possibility that natural causes might explain the occurrence."
"A painting of Mary began to "weep" at St Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church on 6 December 1986. A church official called it "miraculous", but stopped short of declaring it a miracle.
"A painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus was reported to be weeping in April 1987, at the apartment of a retired tailor on the Northwest Side.
"A crucifix at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, Hillside, bled in July 1991, according to a retired railroad worker.
"In 1994, visitors to a St Charles religious gift store maintained that statues of the Virgin Mary moved." (Source: Chicago Sun-Times; reported in Share International, September 1997)
The Most Rev. Metropolitan
Philip Saliba, head of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
of North America, visited the icon, declared it a miracle and gave the
painting its name: "Miraculous Lady". Saliba said: "We dare not explain
this phenomenon. This is a supernatural invasion of the natural order."
Salim Najjar said that when the image of the Madonna appeared on his front window, the amazed family, who attend the St George Church, taped a small reproduction of the weeping icon to the window. To their astonishment the small picture began giving off oily tears.
So begins a Detroit News article on the weeping icon in the home of Alice Lahdu and her five children. The Lahdus, Iraqi Christians who belong to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, have since that time opened their doors five hours a day, Monday through Friday, to anyone wanting to venerate the "blessed Virgin".
On slow days, two
dozen people come to view the icon. On crowded days several times that
number gather to witness what some Roman Catholics, in particular, are
calling "Our Mother of Perpetual Help".
How long can she keep her house open? "I don't know. I don't know," she says, adding in English coloured by her native Aramaic (Christ's language, she's quick to note): "Until my next vacation. Or as long as the Blessed Virgin wants."
Weeping icons are common in religious history, says Joe Nickell, editor of the Skeptical Inquirer. But the Lahdu painting, bought 10 years ago at a Cyprus monastery, is unusual, he says, since the oil doesnLt flow from the eyes but from all over the painting's surface. In some cases he has studied, he believes the icon's guardians who daubed at "tears" with cotton were actually adding more oil. But the quantities in this case, reportedly quarts, if not gallons, are beyond anything he has heard of.
The family gives
out foil-wrapped cotton balls dipped in the icon's yellowish oil that
smells to believers like roses, to cynics more like canola oil. Those
anointed with the oil report wondrous healings. Mary Bidawid, a teacher's
aide, tells of a friend too shy to let her name be used who was barren
for six years, but who conceived after Bidawid rubbed the oil on the
woman's bare belly.
According to medical
records at nearby Mount Carmel Hospital, a woman found that the hole
in her heart vanished after praying and being anointed with the icon's
tears. The Associated Press and the Columbus Dispatch reported
that this is only one of many accounts of such healings. Traditionally,
in the Orthodox Church, holy icons are considered to be "windows into
heaven." The church invites people of all faiths to come and witness
this "wonderful and miraculous" icon.
The pastor of the church, Father Fred Underwood, said that at one point he moved the tablecloth-covered table on which the photo rested. Underwood's staff later noticed he had blood on his right hand. But he had no cuts. Underwood said, "I didn't even touch the picture. And there's nothing on the tablecloth." Underwood and most of his parishioners are convinced the bleeding photo is a miracle. Some consider it a sign that people have turned away from Jesus, and a call to stop leading sinful lives.
But if the faithful were convinced of the miracle's authenticity, the Catholic Church was not. Austin Bishop John McCarthy, upon visiting the church, ordered the photo to be removed from public display until Catholic Church authorities had an opportunity to investigate it further. (Source: Austin American-Statesman)
"We feel so privileged to have the picture of the Sacred Heart here and Our Lord working so actively in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. You see so many external phenomena happening right before your eyes - visions and conversions and instantaneous healings. It is like watching Jesus heal people and work and walk the earth 2,000 years ago." ( Father Underwood )