A group of parishioners have taken to praying under a tree located outside a cathedral in California because they believe the plant is weeping God's tears. An arborist, however, thinks differently.
A group was seen last week gathered outside St. John's Cathedral in Fresno, Calif. They prayed under a Crape Myrtle tree and asked for miracles, according to NBC's WPTV. The tree has been spurting a liquid that some believe to be the tears of God. One woman even claimed that when "Glory be to God in Jesus' name" is said, more of the substance comes out.
But an arborist says the liquid is not "tears" at all, but excrement from aphides, small, soft-bodied insects that suck the juice from plants.
"The aphides will suck the sap," arborist Jon Reelhorn explained to WPTV, "the sap goes through the aphid and then it is a honey dew excrement from the aphid and it gets so heavy in the summertime that it will drip down."
A "miracle," according to Catholic doctrine, is "a sign of God's grace, manifested as a sudden event that defies rational or scientific explanation," The Economist notes. While this "weeping" tree may not fall under the category of extraordinary, it can still bring comfort to the faithful.
"Incidents like these -- weeping statues, paintings, trees or other objects -- happen more frequently than some might imagine," Father James Martin, Jesuit priest and editor-at-large at America magazine, told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement Monday. "Usually the phenomena are easily explained by science. But occasionally the causes remain inexplicable. I'm a firm believer in miracles, but I also believe that God can speak to us through natural means, as a way of reminding us of God's presence. Sometimes God gives us a little nudge -- explicable or inexplicable -- as if to say, 'I'm here.'"
This isn't the first time a "weeping" object has caught attention. Last year, CNN reported on believers who thought water dripping down a statue of Jesus at Our Lady of Velankanni in Mumbai, India, was holy. They collected the liquid and drank it, hoping to receive healing miracles. Sanal Edamaruku, a rationalist and atheist, determined the liquid was actually just sewage water coming from a leaky pipe; he was later charged with blasphemy.
(Hat tip, Nothing To Do With Arbroath)