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Photos of ‘crying’ Virgin Mary painting were shared too soon: church

On Sunday, photos from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side were shared on Facebook. The body that oversees the church is saying someone jumped the gun when they spread the word.

“Tears” having been falling from the Virgin Mary’s face at Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side since Sunday morning.
“Tears” having been falling from the Virgin Mary’s face at Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side since Sunday morning.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Typically, the faithful are encouraged to spread the “good news.”

Except, however, when it’s the case of a possibly divine message from on high.

On Sunday, photos from the Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side were posted on Facebook to share what appeared to be liquid streak stains coming from the eyes of a painting of the Virgin Mary.

Now, though, the body that oversees the church is saying someone jumped the gun when they spread the word.

“In such cases, Orthodox clergy know to immediately inform their bishop so that he may take appropriate steps to discern the nature of the phenomenon,” the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago said in a statement Tuesday night. “When similar events were discovered in the Metropolis in the past, such news was not shared until months later in order to discern that what was observed was truly a sign from God.”

“Unfortunately, appropriate discernment was not used in this particular instance, and an announcement was hastily posted on Facebook, which subsequently led to negative public attention.”

The overseeing body said it examined the painting and will return it to the church, with another statement coming soon to detail “the nature of what was observed.”

Congregants have flocked to the church at 6041 W. Diversey since Sunday, when an employee discovered two streaks beneath the eyes on a painting of the Virgin Mary.

The statement from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago came just hours after a federal judge OK’d the sale of the house of worship, which had found itself $8 million in debt and in foreclosure.

The judge, without any legal objections, approved the $2.5 million sale of the building to another religious group unaffiliated with Jonas or his parishioners. Congregants now have two months to find a new place to worship.