Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Virgin Mary's Statue in Akita, Japan

Our Lady of Akita Weeping Statue and Miracles

Virgin Mary statue crying tears
A statue of the Virgin Mary crying tears -- like the statue that believers say cried during the "Our Lady of Akita" miracles. Dan Brandenburg/Getty Images

Blood, sweat, and tears are all physical signs of the suffering human beings go through in this fallen world, in which sin causes stress and pain for everyone. The Virgin Mary has often reportedly said in her many miraculous apparitions over the years that she cares deeply about human suffering. So when a statue of her in Akita, Japan began bleeding, sweating, and crying tears as if it was a living person, crowds of curious people visited Akita from around the world.

After thorough investigations, the statue’s fluids were confirmed scientifically to be human yet miraculous (from a supernatural source). Here’s the story of the statue, the nun (Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa) whose prayers seemed to spark the supernatural phenomenon, and reports of healing miracles reported from “Our Lady of Akita” in the 1970s and 1980s:

A Guardian Angel Appears and Urges Prayer

Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa was in the chapel of her convent, the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist, on June 12, 1973 when she noticed a brilliant light shining from the place on the altar where the Eucharist elements were. She said she saw a fine mist surrounding the altar, and “a multitude of beings, similar to angels, who surrounded the altar in adoration.”

Later that same month, an angel began meeting with Sister Agnes to talk and pray together. The angel, who had a “sweet expression”  and looked like “a person covered with a shining whiteness like snow” revealed that he/she was Sister Agnes’ guardian angel, she said.

Pray as often as possible, the angel told Sister Agnes, because prayer strengthens souls by drawing them closer to their Creator. A good example of prayer, said the angel, was one that Sister Agnes (who had only been a nun for about a month) hadn’t heard yet – the prayer that came from Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, Portugal: “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.

Amen.”

Holy Wounds

Then Sister Agnes developed stigmata (wounds resembling the wounds that Jesus Christ suffered during his crucifixion) on the palm of her left hand. The wound – in the shape of a cross – began bleeding, which sometimes caused Sister Agnes great pain.

The guardian angel told Sister Agnes: “The wounds of Mary are much deeper and more sorrowful than yours."

The Statue Comes to Life

On July 6th, the angel suggested that Sister Agnes go to the chapel for prayer. The angel accompanied her, but vanished after they arrived there. Sister Agnes then felt drawn to the statue of Mary, as she later recalled: “I suddenly felt that the wooden statue came to life and was about to speak to me. She was bathed in a brilliant light.”

Sister Agnes, who had been deaf for years due to a previous illness, then miraculously heard a voice speaking to her. “… a voice of indescribable beauty struck my totally deaf ears,” she reported. The voice -- which Sister Agnes said was Mary's voice, coming from the statue -- told her, "Your deafness will be healed. Be patient."

Then Mary started to pray with Sister Agnes, and the guardian angel showed up to join them in unified prayer. The three prayed together to devote themselves wholeheartedly to God's purposes, Sister Agnes said.

Part of the prayer urged: "Use me as you will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls."

Blood Flows Out of the Statue’s Hand

Blood began to flow out of the statue's hand the very next day, from a stigmata wound that looked identical to Sister Agnes' wound. One of Sister Agnes' fellow nuns, who observed the statue's wound up close, recalled: "It seemed to be truly cut into flesh. The edge of the cross had the aspect of human flesh and one even saw the grain of the skin like a fingerprint."

The statue sometimes bled simultaneously with Sister Agnes. Sister Agnes had the stigmata on her hand for about one month – from June 28th to July 27th – and the statue of Mary in the chapel bled for a total of about two months.

Sweat Beads Appear on the Statue

After that, the statue began to sweat beads of perspiration.

While the statue sweated, it exuded a scent like the sweet aroma of roses.

Mary spoke again on August 3, 1973, Sister Agnes said, giving a message about the importance of obeying God: "Many people in this world afflict the Lord ... In order that the world might know his anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind ... Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father's anger ... know that you must be fastened to the cross with three nails. These three nails are poverty, chastity and obedience. Of the three, obedience is the foundation. ... Let each individual endeavor, according to capacity and position, to offer herself or himself entirely to the Lord," she quoted Mary as saying.

Every day, Mary urged, people should recite the prayers of the rosary to help them draw closer to God.

Tears Fall as the Statue Cries

More than a year later, on January 4, 1975, the statue began to weep -- crying three times on that first day.

The weeping statue drew so much attention that its crying was broadcast on national television throughout Japan on December 8, 1979.

By the time the statue cried for the last time -- on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th) in 1981 -- it had wept for a total of 101 times.

Bodily Fluids from the Statue are Scientifically Tested

This type of miracle -- involving bodily fluids inexplicably flowing from a non-human object -- is called a lachrymation. When a lachrymation is reported, fluids can be examined as part of the investigation process.

Samples of blood, sweat, and tears from the Akita statue were all scientifically tested by people who weren't told where the samples came from. The results: all of the fluids were identified as human. The blood was found to be Type B, the sweat Type AB, and the tears Type AB.

Investigators came to the conclusion that a supernatural miracle had somehow caused a non-human object -- the statue -- to exude human bodily fluids, because that would be impossible naturally.

However, skeptics pointed out, the source of that supernatural power may not have been good – it may have come from the evil side of the spiritual realm. Believers countered that it was Mary herself who was working the miracle in order to strengthen people's faith in God.

Mary Warns About a Future Disaster

Mary delivered an alarming premonition of the future and warning to Sister Agnes in her final Akita message, on October 13, 1973: “If people do not repent and better themselves," Mary said according to Sister Agnes, "the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge (the flood involving the prophet Noah that the Bible describes), such as has never has been seen before. Fire will fall from the sky, and will wipe out nearly all of humanity – the good and the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. ... The devil will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness.

If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them."

Healing Miracles Happen

Various different types of healing for body, mind, and spirit have been reported by people who have visited the Akita statue to pray. For instance, someone who came on pilgrimage from Korea in 1981 experienced healing from terminal brain cancer. Sister Agnes herself was healed of deafness in 1982, as she said Mary had told her would eventually happen.