Miracle of Tears – History of the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse (Madonna Delle Lacrime)

The Weeping Madonna of Syracuse (or Madonna Delle Lacrime in Italian) is a plaster-hanging mold of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with a rich and mysterious history.

This plaster image of Mary was bought in 1953 as a wedding gift for Angelo and Antonina Lannuso, a young couple living in Sicily. While the couple previously admitted that they were not particularly devout Catholics, their lives were soon transformed by this seemingly innocuous piece of artwork. 

The unexpected effects of the image hung above their bed

Upon moving into their new home, the Lannusos hung the wedding gift above their bed. Before long, Antonina became pregnant. Of course, the couple was elated, but Antonina began to suffer from toxemia after just a short time, causing convulsions and temporary blindness. 

weeping mary

Late one night, Antonina suffered a particularly traumatic episode that rendered her completely blind. A few hours later, Antonina awoke, relieved to find that her sight had been restored. She looked up and saw that the effigy of The Madonna was weeping.

At first, she thought her ailments had caused her to hallucinate, but her beliefs were confirmed after calling for her family members. They saw that tears were falling from the eyes of the Virgin Mary and that some tears ran down her cheeks onto the bed’s headboard.

This weeping continued throughout that morning and on and off for the next four days. After, visiting doctors confirmed that Antonina’s illnesses were no longer apparent. 

A divine phenomenon

News of this fantastic effigy soon spread throughout the city, bringing curious friends, neighbors, church authorities, and strangers. To quell the people’s curiosity, the family decided to nail this effigy above the door, and many visitors came by to collect its tears on pieces of material. 

gathering crowd madonna delle lacrime

Skeptics were still dubious about this piece’s credibility, so scientists came to analyze the tears. Following a detailed inspection, the scientists conceded that these tears had the same alkalinity, appearance and composition as human tears. The notion that this moisture came from condensation was soon dispelled, as condensation would have affected the entire piece of art and nearby objects. The Lannusos, their friends, neighbors, local clergy and even scientists were all lost for words.  

This study was sent to the secretary of the Holy Office, Cardinal Pizzardo. Archbishop Baranzini visited soon after this and declared that the tears were that of despair. He believed that society and culture had gone astray, people were suffering in the East, and others in the West were losing their faith. 

Before long, the Bishops of Sicily had agreed that this divine effigy was a manifestation of The Virgin Mary and should be heeded. 

madonna delle lacrime Siracusa

This small family grew to be healthy, with Antonina giving birth to a healthy son on Christmas Day, 1953. The couple had become so well known that Archbishop Baranzini officiated their son’s baptism. 

The news of Antonina’s miraculous healing and incredible witnessing of the tears of Our Lady spread across the globe. The wonder felt by the Lannusos was shared by Catholics worldwide; even scientists who studied the chemical make-up of Mary’s tears were baffled.  

Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime

santuario madonna delle lacrime

Built on the shape of a tear drop, the 102m-high spire of this church is home to the weeping Madonna of Syracuse. The sanctuary’s lower floor houses the Museo della Lacrimazione (Museum of the Lacrymation), a small, underwhelming museum summarising the 1953 event.

Crowds still gather to marvel at this wondrous piece of artwork, jubilant at the sight of the manifestation of the Lady Madonna.

Around the world, many still discuss whether the tears really were divine or supernatural in nature or if there was another explanation for the tears.

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