Weeping Virgin of Las Vegas:
An article about a statue of the Virgin Mary which weeps tears that reportedly have healing powers, and about other miracles experienced by those who pray to Her.
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
The prayer vigil was held to commemorate the day in 1531 when the original miracle of Guadalupe took place. On 9 December 1531, a poor farmer, Juan Diego, was walking across Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City when he heard the song of many birds coming from the hilltop. Climbing to the summit, the vision of a beautiful woman appeared before him. She told him to ask the bishop to build a shrine to her on the place where she stood. Juan Diego rushed to relay his story to the bishop, but was met with disbelief and a demand for proof. Full of sadness, he prayed for guidance and three days later, on 12 December 1531, the woman returned. To give Juan Diego proof of his story, she instructed him to cut flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill – miraculous, out-of-season roses – and secretly imprinted an image of herself on Juan Diego's cape. She told Juan Diego that her name was Holy Mary of Guadalupe, and that he was to deliver the roses to the bishop. Seeing the roses and the sign of the Madonna on Juan Diego's cape, the bishop believed, and the shrine was built. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City stands today on the site, and within the Basilica Juan Diego's cape can still be seen.
The miracle story of the Weeping Virgin of Las Vegas began in 1991 when Pablo Covarrubias brought his statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico City to Las Vegas. The statue barely survived the border crossing at Tijuana, Mexico, since the US border guards initially wanted to smash the statue to make sure that drugs were not stashed inside. When Pablo finally returned home, he placed the image of the Guadalupe Madonna on a stone pedestal in his backyard. The entire family prayed with devotion at their shrine.
On 31 May 1993, Pablo's daughter Martha noticed tears on the face of the Madonna. Recognizing a miracle, the family called the media so that they could share their miracle with others. The CBS television affiliate Las Vegas Channel 8 sent a camera crew to record the event. The reporter insisted that before filming the statue be removed from its natural stone pedestal in order to prove that no water source was being funneled through the statue to create the tears. Many voiced strong objections to moving the statue, fearful that it might be broken. However, they saw the need for an objective eyewitness account, so the statue was taken off its pedestal. After this was done, the statue began to weep again for the cameras, as if on cue.
The media returned about a week later to film additional footage for their news report. Although the television station discarded their videotape after two years as a matter of policy, the family still has a video copy of the story which was aired on TV Channel 8 in June 1993, a week after the miracle took place.
Seeing a videotape of the Guadalupe Madonna of Las Vegas weeping is an extraordinary experience because the weeping appears to be so realistic and ëhuman'. The hand-painted plaster statue stands about four feet tall, with a golden, spiked corona, green robe and veil, and copper-shaded dress. With its lovely face and golden brown eyes, it depicts an idealized portrait of feminine and saintly beauty. The film footage shows the slowly-falling tears with a close-up shot of the Madonna's face. The eyes of the Madonna slowly well up with tears which accumulate and then overflow down her face. Just as they are about to drop from her chin, a cotton ball is used to capture the tears as devotional gifts for the faithful.
The tear-filled cotton balls were soon discovered to have miraculous healing properties. One of the healings attributed to the statue's tears, according to the family, was that of a pregnant woman who was told by her doctor that her unborn baby was dying. She was given a cotton ball soaked with the Virgin's tears. After she rubbed her stomach with the cotton ball, her pregnancy corrected itself and a healthy baby was born. There have been many other cures. One person had an eye disease healed and another was cured of cancer. Some hospital patients miraculously recovered after an application of the Virgin's tears.
Tears, however, are not the only manifested and provable miracle associated with the Weeping Virgin of Las Vegas. The bust of a small angel at the bottom of the statue regularly ësweats' a fragrant, rose-scented oil from his face and hair. The sheen of that oil was both visible and tangible on the top portion of the angel's head.
In October 1993 another miracle took place. On an unusually windy day in Las Vegas, 32 people were praying in front of the statue when suddenly the wind died down, the clouds broke, and the sunlit form of the Guadalupe Madonna appeared in the sky. The glowing rays of the sun created the spiked, golden aura typical of representations of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Everyone in the prayer group witnessed the vision.
The Madonna wept for a second time on 12 December 1993, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The miracle tears flowed again on 25 September 1995. That September, the tears of the Madonna were accompanied by another miracle, also videotaped by the family: when Pablo's daughter Martha prayed to the Madonna, an even-armed cross appeared on her forehead like a raised scar.
A month after this, Father Swenson of St Bridget's Catholic Church in Las Vegas came to see the miracle statue with four friends, and saw "some moisture on the statue's face". However, in his opinion, a miracle is not valid until the Church gives its official approval; the local bishop has stated he believes the miracle statue is a fake – although even without the endorsement of the Church the Weeping Virgin of Las Vegas has drawn many visitors since 1993.
On 23 January 1999, during a Papal mass at the Basilica in Mexico City, the Pope designated 12 December as a special day to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in churches throughout the Americas. The patron saint of Mexico had now become the symbol for all the Americas – North, Central, and South – and the unifying symbol of reverence for the Madonna throughout the world.
(Benjamin Creme's Master confirms that the Master Who was the Madonna is responsible for the miracles surrounding the Las Vegas ëWeeping Virgin' statue.)
Address of the shrine: Pablo Covarrubias, 2033 Donna Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89030, United States. Tel: (702) 642-0452 (Spanish speakers only in the household.) The shrine is open to all, evenings and weekends. No money is accepted, at the family's request.
From the July/August 1999 issue of Share International