A Vatican academy is set to investigate ‘mystical phenomena’ around the world including ‘weeping’ statues of the Virgin Mary, stigmata and ghost sightings, under plans for a new dedicated observatory.
The Pontifical Mariana International Academy (PAMI), which describes itself as a scientific institution of the Holy See, will hope to uncover ‘around a hundred ongoing phenomena’ in Italy alone.
The specialist observatory, which is still awaiting authenticity by the Church, will ‘evaluate and study apparitions and mystical phenomena’ across the globe, Vatican News reports.
It will delve into ghost sightings, interior locutions, and stigmata – which believers see as bodily marks, scars, or pains corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.
On the launch of the new Observatory Scientific Committee, Mariologist Father Gian Matteo Roggio told local Italian media: ‘In Italy, there are around a hundred ongoing phenomena that the Church is following closely.
‘Many of these are local and restricted in scope, not all of them receive attention from the media and the general public.’
PAMI, which will begin its first session on Saturday, had been keeping its eye on a curious case involving a weeping Mary statue in Trevignano, near Rome.
It involved an Italian woman facing an investigation for fraud after claiming her Virgin Mary statue could cry tears of blood and multiply gnocchi and pizza. Thousands rushed to see Gisella Cardia’s predictions after her statue of Our Lady of Trevignano Romano began weeping blood.
Followers believed she brought messages from Mary and some said she’d even predicted the Covid pandemic. But Cardia, 53, has been exposed as a fraud after church investigators discovered the blood her statue wept was not holy and actually came from a pig, according to local media.
Officials believe she has now fled after defrauding her followers of tens of thousands of Euros in donations.
Father Stefano Cecchin, part of the committee explained: ‘The purpose of the Observatory [is] to activate national and international commissions to evaluate and study apparitions and mystical phenomena reported in various areas of the world.
He added: ‘[It will] promote updating and training activities on this type of events and their multiple spiritual and cultural meanings, promote high dissemination and consultancy activities, especially at the service of local Churches and bishops, but also trans-disciplinary research activities in concert with academic institutions, both lay and ecclesiastical, and the publication of the results of the researches carried out.’