Famous is the image in Syracuse, Sicily, which emanated tears in 1953, as a pregnant woman who slept beneath it was cured of toxemia so severe it had temporarily blinded her. [See yesterday’s story]

A Miracle In The U.S.

May 25, 2023 by sd

Famous is the image in Syracuse, Sicily, which emanated tears in 1953, as a pregnant woman who slept beneath it was cured of toxemia so severe it had temporarily blinded her. [See yesterday’s story]

It was upon waking — and finding herself wonderfully able to see — that Antonina Lannuso (and husband Angelo) noticed it weeping.

It is now known as the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse (in Italian, Madonna Delle Lacrime), and a large church, with towering spire, was built to house it.

We have come to learn that four years before that event, incredibly, and far across the ocean, another image connected to the Madonna “wept” and was also in a city named Syracuse — this one in Upstate New York.

The occurrence: Tuesday, April 13, 1949, during Holy Week.

That day, the strongest earthquake in more than 130 years rattled the Pacific Northwest, killing eight. It was a mega-event, dominating news.

But in Syracuse, New York, the city’s attention was focused elsewhere — to be precise, on a house at 511 Hawley Avenue.

As the Post-Standard reported: “On April 3, 1949, while cleaning her home, Viola Martin, a divorced mother of four, placed a 2-foot tall plaster statue of Saint Anne, the mother of Mary, onto a windowsill. It fell outside and struck a rock, smashing into pieces. The statue left a small cross on the rock.

“Somehow, the head of the statue remained intact, suffering only a small scratch on its nose, and landed in the driveway.

“Shirley Anne, 11, the oldest of the children, and described as ‘very religious,’ found the head while playing and gave the statue a kiss.

“The head, she said, began to weep tears. She went to tell her mother. When her mother saw the teardrops, she was shocked.”

Soon, throngs were crowding the home’s front porch hoping to catch a glimpse of an 11-year-old girl and her weeping statue of Saint Anne and thousands more when the statue’s head was brought to Our Lady of Pompeii Church, where tears were witnessed by twenty people, including three priests, altar boys, and nuns. The tears reappeared when they were wiped away, usually materializing after the devout girl kissed it.

It even bears resemblance to the Sicilian image that would lacrymate four years hence [below].

madonna delle lacrime Siracusa

A frenzy ensued, so many coming to see that police had to restore order. Said the newspaper: “Shirley Anne lightly touches her lips to the forehead, then holds the head away from her. In a moment, the dull plaster finish begins to glisten at the corner of one eye. The glistening spots spread, and touching them leave no doubt, that they are watery, tear-like liquid. If the tears are wiped away, they reappear when Shirley Anne again kisses the statue.”

Herman Borzner, the paper’s chief photographer — who called himself a “pretty skeptical guy” — said he “wouldn’t begin to explain it, but I saw water appear in the crevice between the eye and the nose on one side of the face.” Ditto for a nearby college professor.

(copyright, Heritage Microfilm)

The tears even appeared on live television — but stopped on Good Friday.

No coincidence, that it was Holy Week. The mother of Mary, weeping along with her daughter, weeping for her grandSon.

1949 was the year Israel formed as an independent nation, NATO was formed, and Russia tested its first atomic bomb. And perhaps it is no coincidence that the miracle was the same day as that quake. (The greatest quake ever to hit Alaska would occur fifteen years later — on Good Friday, 1964.)

The name “Syracuse”  is from a pre-Hellenic word, perhaps Phoenician serah “to feel ill,” in reference to its location near a swamp. In biblical terms, it can also mean “to draw violently.”

And there we have it, in a nutshell, to discern.

Two cities named “Syracuse.” Two weeping icons.

[resources: books on the Virgin Mary]

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