On June 21, 2008 the statue of Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot, a small fishing village near the city of Bogo, Northern Cebu, shed tears. Seven men, who were cutting some Indian trees outside the church, witnessed this. They quickly informed Father Desuyo what happened and he confirmed that indeed tears were on the statue’s face. Other people showed up to see the phenomenon for themselves; hundreds witnessed this event.
On June 25 the statue of Mary shed tears once again; thirty-five people who were praying in front of the statue witnessed this. Father Desuyo reported the matter to Cebu’s Cardinal Vidal, and the weeping statue has been observed by the church ever since. Cardinal Vidal had said, “let us watch and observe because if it’s the work of God, then it will grow and flourish.”
The statue of Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot continues to shed tears now and then. There’s no telling when it will occur. On Monday, February 6, 2012, when the 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit Cebu and Negros, the statue wept. I was with Father Desuyo in Cebu and witnessed him receive several text messages from Odlot saying the statue was weeping once again.
The devotion to Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot has grown steadily ever since the statue started weeping. Pilgrims travel the 2½ hour drive from Cebu City to this remote Northern town. Many people have reported miracles, attributed to Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot. One such report was of a child who was near death; the child’s aunt came across a vial of holy oil from Odlot, which she rubbed all over the dying child’s body. The child instantly recovered. There have been cases of spontaneous healings of medical ailments.
Our Lady too has been seen in the vicinity. Some people have seen her hovering near the Indian trees, or near the water tank, or in the church. Once, after the First Saturday procession, a parishioner said she saw Mary outside the church. Without knowing about the parishioner’s experience, a priest (not Father Desuyo) also reported seeing her image in the same spot, at the same time.
Many incidents of this mysterious nature have been happening in Odlot.
A few years ago I asked Father Desuyo what he thought they meant.
Father Desuyo is a jolly man with a childlike faith in God and Mary. Once he talked about running low on funds for building the Odlot church, and he talked to Mary, “It’s up to you,” he said, “If you want your church finished, I need your help.” The next day he received a huge donation from an anonymous donor.
He answered my question by saying he too had wondered what Mary was trying to say when her statue started weeping on June 21, 2008. He thought perhaps this had to do with the sinking of the ship M/V Princess of the Stars off the coast of Romblon that day. Two people from Odlot had been on that ship and went missing.
After super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda struck and destroyed Central Philippines, including Odlot, I asked Father Desuyo, “Do you think the statue of Mary has been weeping since 2008 as a warning of the coming of Haiyan/Yolanda? ”
He said, “For me, yes, because we have observed that every time she is found to have tears there is a calamity. Saturday, after the typhoon, I and some parishioner got inside the sanctuary to visit Mama Mary, and we found her eyes were reddish as if she cried so much.”
Odlot, which has a population of around 15,000, suffered at lot. Ninety-two percent of the people ended up homeless. Fortunately, only four people died. The parish church lost its roof, but the part where the weeping statue stood was not destroyed. The image of Mary was all right. Even her protective glass orna at the main altar was not broken.
“Though the church is still roofless, we are back inside to celebrate Masses and other spiritual activities. Through Mama Mary’s intercession, very soon a roof will be installed, ” said Father Desuyo.
The case of the weeping statue of Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot would not be the first time Mary warned people of catastrophes.
In Rwanda, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to several adolescents from 1981 to 1989 to ask for prayer, fasting and penance. A vision in 1982 foretold the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The church confirmed the authenticity of the visions experienced by Alphonsine, Nathalie and Marie Claire. Marie Claire herself was a victim of the Rwandan Genocide.
In 1973 Our Lady started appearing in Akita, Japan, to Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa. Sister Agnes was a stigmatic, and the statue of Our Lady in Akita also displayed stigmata wounds and wept for six years on 101 occasions.
In 1984 the apparition of Our Lady of Akita was approved by the bishop of Nigata and by Cardinal Ratzinger. In March of 2011 a magnitude-8.8 earthquake hit Japan, followed by a destructive tsunami. The earthquake’s epicenter was located near Akita.
Our Lady of Soufanieh has also appeared to a stigmatic and visionary in Damascus, Syria, Myrna Nazzour. In 1982 a small inexpensive icon that belonged to Myrna Nazzour started oozing oil, which caused miraculous healings. Myrna Nazzour herself exuded oil. As we know, following a peaceful demonstration in 2011, Syria has been wracked with a deadly civil war, with 115,000 dead, and more than 2.5 million have fled Syria.
There are other cases where Mary has appeared in a particular place to foreshadow catastrophes. On the other hand, Mary has also appeared in places where nothing bad has happened.
In her appearances, Mary exhorts all to pray. And I think this is what is key in her appearances. She is the mother reminding us to be more spiritual, to focus on what is important, so that we may live better. As Father Desuyo put it, “It’s time for us now to be close to her Son.”