Our Lady of Akita: The crying statue

November 26, 2013

A wooden statue of the Madonna that literally shed blood, sweat and tears, and issued an urgent warning to repent in messages to a deaf Japanese sister in the 1970s constitute the apparition of Our Lady of Akita. 

It’s not often the Church approves the authenticity of a weeping statue, but in 1984 Japanese Bishop John Shojiro Ito, following a near decade-long investigation, affirmed the supernatural events of Our Lady of Akita. He also authorized her veneration throughout Japan.

The story begins on June 12, 1973 with Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, a novice with the institute of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, who witnessed a strong light burst forth from the tabernacle in her convent for three days. 

Soon after Sister Agnes developed a painful cross-shaped wound on her left hand, which also appeared on the statue of the Holy Mother. Sister Agnes received the first message from the Virgin, whom she could hear vividly though she was deaf. 

The Virgin called for prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls. She also promised that Sister Agnes’s deafness would be healed. 

In the presence of the sisters of the convent, the wound on the statue of Our Lady bled four separate times. When the wound healed, the statue began to perspire, filling the chapel with the scent of roses. 

Sister Agnes received a second message at that time urging more prayer and penance to assuage the anger of the Father for sins and ingratitude. 

On Oct. 13 of that year, the anniversary of the last vision and miracle at Fatima, as many people note, Sister Agnes received a third and final message from Our Lady, which warned of an awful punishment awaiting mankind if sinners did not repent and turn to virtue. 

“It will definitely be a punishment greater than the Deluge, such as has never been seen before. Fire will plunge from the sky and a large part of humanity will perish... The good as well as the bad will perish, sparing neither priests nor the faithful. The survivors will find themselves plunged into such terrible hardships that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the sign left by My Son (Eucharist),” the Holy Mother said. She also urged the daily recitation of the Rosary, and prayers for priests and bishops. 

Two years later, the wooden statue of Our Lady began to weep. It shed tears 101 times over six and half years. Hundreds of people witnessed the “lacrimations,” including Bishop Ito.

“I twice tasted this liquid. It was salty and seemed to me truly human tears,” Bishop Ito wrote. 

Scientists analyzed the drops from the solid wood statue and determined them to be human tears as well. 

The crying Madonna was broadcast on Japanese television. Miraculous cures were also associated with the statue, including the full restoration of Sister Agnes’ hearing.

“As for the content of the messages received, there is nothing contrary to Catholic doctrine or morals,” Bishop Ito said in the pastoral letter approving the apparitions, “and when one thinks of the actual state of the world, the warning seems to correspond to it in many points.”