Toribia del Valintroduced one of the ways of connecting with the divine: the visit of a supernatural with counsel and instructions for a specific purpose, in her case to end a drought in 1931. Because Toribia saw the visitor and no one else did, we call this a vision, or, from the point of view of a believer, an apparition.
Her vision introduced new information into the constellation of grace in the zone around Casas de Benítez. If all had gone well and rain had fallen as predicted, it would have enhanced local devotion to San Isidro and the Virgen de la Cabeza. For the district it would have added these sources of help, at least for rain, to those in already existing shrines like the Christ of Sisante, Our Lady of the Holy Spring in La Roda, and Our Lady of Riánsares in Tarancón. In an earlier time there might even have been a shrine built to the holy visitor in Toribia’s garden, as there was to the Angel of Ayora.
One can imagine this constellation of grace, slowly changing from late antiquity on, as a bird’s eye view of a nocturnal scene. Laid out on the landscape are lights, some brighter, some blinking, some dying out. Some are new, intense and brightly colored, others steady and constant for centuries. Some are isolated in the mountains like a beacon, other in bright clusters in cities with Rome and Jerusalem shining in the distance. The lights are sources of supernatural help; their intensity varies according to their power to resolve human needs and provide salvation.
This constellation is in constant renewal, as old grace is exhausted or routinized, and new material replaces it in a system that, whatever the mix of lights, provides consolation, divine company, and practical help. The sources of this help have slowly shifted over time, from a predominance of the bodies and relics of saints and the magnetic attraction of living saints, to representations of divine beings, icons, paintings, statues, or prints. These power sources had their tenders. Some were towns, cities, kingdoms for which the images were cherished protectors. Others were religious orders, brotherhoods, or secular shrine keepers for whom this power was the origin of income and prestige and a field for competition. In this constellation there is much dark matter that is not, or not yet, powerful: bones unrecognized as relics, relics that do not heal anybody, strangers unrecognized as angels, children who may be saints, images no one cares about.
As time went on more and more Spaniards ceased to believe in this meta-physics and indeed considered it an obstacle to social and economic justice. The Spanish Civil War unleashed the wholesale destruction of the sources of divine power with a violence unique in European history: the killing of the clergy that maintained them, the systematic burning of images, and the desecration of holy places. But under Franco the lights came on again, and for believers they are still on now.
What does this dynamic system, constantly refreshed, look like on the ground? The expectation of new grace, the very latest in divine presence and help, translates into a general alertness among many believers to people and things that are more than they seem to be: the stranger or pilgrim who may be something else, the priest, nun, monk, or lay volunteer who may have a charisma for healing or prophecy, the image whose potential as a portal to heaven lies unrecognized. The recognition and propagation of new grace gives agency and provides excitement to active believers in Catholicism.
Here we will consider images, meaning any likeness of a divine figure—statue, painting, or engraving. Particular ones, not countless others, became special in many of the same ways that particular relics became special, not others. They could come to stand out by the miracles they performed; by the way they were discovered; by their ritual shifting; by their promotion by saints, preachers, hermits, shrine keepers or lay enthusiasts; and by visions that identified them.
In some images—as in Spain Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Montserrat or the Christ of Burgos—this power was generally acknowledged, retroactively endowed with a legendary origin, and carefully managed by guardians, curtains and protocol. But in fact any religious image or cross, however humble, plain, or mass-produced, could at any moment reveal itself to be powerful and have a protective vocation for a person, family, group, or place. David Freedberg’s The Power of Images and Carolyn Bynum’s Wonderful Blood provide a sense of the immanence in some images, and Alfred Gell’s Art and Agency discusses image’s performative capacity. Let us here think of these images as part of a dynamic system in which some images hold onto power, others gradually relinquish it, and new or dormant ones announce it.
One way, people believed, the divine signaled that certain images had power was by those images activating and giving off liquids that seemed like tears, sweat or blood. In this chapter we will compare instances in early modern Spain with others in twentieth-century Italy, Spain and France. The long history of these events stretched back to pre-Christian statues. In Spain they seem to have thrived from about 1590 to 1720, a period in which the Inquisition had throttled lay visions of Mary or saints (like that of Toribia) with messages of instruction and protection for the community. The animation of statues and paintings, in contrast, entailed no revelation and little challenge to community or Church structures of authority, which in fact it ended up strengthening. In their golden age most of the images involved were of Christ or the Sorrowing Mother. It coincided with the apogee of penitential brotherhoods and a series of droughts, epidemics, intercommunal conflict and wars. It was a period in which images were designed, dressed and choreographed in sacred pageants, rituals, dances, and processions as if they were active, lifelike presences that could interact with humans and with each other. The careful documentation of many of these events contrasts with and may well be related to the public debunking of such miracles in northern Europe. For instance, in England, in 1538, there was a demonstration in a marketplace that the eyes and lips of a famous crucifix were moved “by strings of hair.” And a famous relic of blood, supposedly that of Christ, was shown not to be blood at all, “but honey clarified and colored with saffron in the form of a gum.” Similarly, in 1545, a priest was sentenced to wear about his neck a broad stole of linen cloth colored with drops like blood. Theatrically quivering and shaking, he had pricked his finger so that blood dropped on the communion cloth as if from the consecrated host.
A similar vein of skepticism had been expressed by some fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Spanish commentators. Perhaps the most influential was Alonso Fernandez de Madrigal (c. 1410–1455), whose guide to confession was a standard work well into the sixteenth century. In his commentary on the First Commandment he wrote against idolatry (“when people have more devotion for one image than another, they sin”). And he addressed the notion “living” images in particular. “They say that the images weep and shed very sweet tears. But that is really water and honey that they put on them from behind, something hard to allow even when idols were adored. If only those who do this did nothing else wrong but make money; but what is above all worse is that they turn silly people into idolaters. Those who do this should not only be severely punished; but the earth should not have to suffer them. For an image cannot go and rescue captives, or move from a place unless they move it, or have any more awareness or feeling than a stone.” There were scornful Spanish Protestants as well, like Cipriano de Valera (“Oh ignorant blindness and blind ignorance! How many images have spoken? How many have sweated, even drops of blood? People believe that the Crucifix of Burgos’s beard, hair and even fingernails grow”).
But while in England and the Netherlands the debunking of these miracles led to the destruction of images, in early modern Spain and Italy their punctilious validation with witnesses enhanced the images involved to such an extent that most of them are still highly prized and venerated today in their hometowns. Sculptors and painters were called in to determine whether the manifestation might be a fraud or the natural result of resins, glues, varnishes, oils, and paints. And efforts were made to establish how the image had arrived in the town, to endow it with a story and a pedigree. This kind of judicial “proving” was in keeping with reinvigorated canonization and beatification procedures. While the “pre-Trent” method for recording the water and blood on a crucifix on Mallorca involved civil affidavits with local notaries, the documentation after Trent was more elaborate and diocesan, with an eye, as it were, on the opposition.
In Igualada, a town in the province of Barcelona near Piera, a crucifix bled in 1590 on Holy Thursday night or Good Friday morning. The relatively small, previously unremarked crucifix belonged in the Rosary chapel and had been lent on Holy Thursday to the brotherhood of flagellants for their procession because nobody wanted to carry the big, heavy one in the Augustinian monastery. In the event, a volunteer eventually turned up to carry the heavy crucifix, and the smaller one was left in the monastery during the procession. Three or four hours later the smaller crucifix was retrieved and returned to the Rosary chapel, where it belonged, and placed where it could be “adored.” On Good Friday morning two women adoring it (probably kissing its feet) noticed on it bloodlike drops and waterlike sweat. People who crowded in felt awe and fear and cried out to God for mercy. The clergy and town councilors took the image to the parish church and examined it with experts including a doctor, a painter, and two Augustinian friars. The waterlike sweat evaporated, but the red drops were thick, pliable, and moist inside. Blood from the flagellants was quickly ruled out, for when a painter placed blood from his finger on other images it dried and flaked, and these drops did not. The priests divided their time between the busy round of Good Friday rituals and repeated examinations of the crucifix.
Thursday was the day that Christ was whipped, and clearly the people of the time saw this crucifix’s animation as following the same dramatic script of the Passion that they themselves were acting out in their penitential processions. The doctor later testified that it seemed to him that morning that “the Christ was in great travail and agony, like people when they approach the hour of death and are about to give up their soul to our Lord, and that a change came over the entire body, and then the entire face seemed to shine.” On Friday the Augustinians asked to observe the crucifix at three in the afternoon, “which was the time that Christ died, to see if the figure showed any signs.”
The parish priest wrote to the bishop in Vic for instructions, with the hope that the crucifix “would be venerated and given reverence by all Christian believers, and would serve to increase and edify the Holy Catholic Faith.” In reply the bishop insisted on a careful investigation, because if the miracle turned out to be a fraud, “the enemies of the Holy Catholic faith would make fun and be confirmed in their damnable error.” Among the witnesses was a priest who remembered the crucifix as it used to be. Before, “it was a very dark face, it is white as if just made by a master artist, and very changed from what it used to look like.” As a result of the events and their validation, an unnamed, run– of-the-mill crucifix became the Sant Crist d’Igualada.
Fig. 16. Cover of the Informatión, or notarized testimony, regarding the sweating of the Christ of Castilviejo after a petitionary procession for rain, 1602. Municipal Archive, Medina de Rioseco (Valladolid). Photo: The author.
We have seen that drought processions were the occasions for miracles in general and for the activation of images in particular. The case in Mallorca cited above was during a drought, as was that of the Christ of Burgos in a town in Jaén in 1698. Perhaps the best-known instance was on June 8, 1602, when a crucifix in the town of Medina de Rioseco sweated and seemed to be in anguish after the third of a series of processions. Diocesan and town officials took more than five hundred manuscript pages of testimony from forty-seven men, including two painters, a sculptor, two doctors, fourteen priests, five friars, four licentiates, three town officials, four notaries, four members of the brotherhood that owned the crucifix, and just three women (Fig. 16). A barefoot Carmelite friar testified that when he had prayed in the church before the crucifix, it had the “the same countenance and severity and the same figure as always,” but that when the crucifix went by in the procession, “it seemed not the same one that he had seen in the church an hour and a half before, because it was very upset and the hairs of the beard more disordered and his precious countenance more upturned.” An hour later a woman, one of the three called to testify, was the first to see that the image, resting in a church, was sweating.
The prosecutor assigned by the bishop to argue against a formal enquiry said that the miracle was unnecessary since the people were already convinced Christians; that the testimony was repetitive, which showed it was not secret; that liquid could issue naturally from wood; and that it was first proclaimed by a brotherhood member, an interested party because the brotherhood owned the image. He also made one argument that certainly applies to all these investigations: that it was to the interest of everyone in the town that the miracle be approved because it would draw pilgrims from afar. “The witnesses… are all citizens of the town of Medina de Rioseco and hence impassioned in what they say… thinking to enrich the chapel where the image is kept with the alms and gifts.”
The lawyer who answered him for the town agreed that the result would be a regional shrine but thought this a proper reason for a miracle. His defense of this way of singling out special images points to an underlying dynamic in all the cases in this period, that these miracles were first and foremost emblems for civic pride.
I agree that the faith is firm in these kingdoms, yet our laxity in attending things in God’s service and holy worship is such that sometimes miracles are necessary… And by this means Our Lord is accustomed to attract people from other towns, for in this kind of situation we see that people flock to visit the images by which Our Lord works his miracles not only from the places where they occur, but also from the others in the district and from all the area where the fame of the miracle is made known and spreads. And by these cases and supernatural events, although all images should be esteemed and revered with much respect for what they represent, particularly those [images] by which Our Lord works miracles like these are respected and held in greater devotion and in the chapels where they are kept much penance is done, Masses and sermons are said, and prayers are made, attracting and bringing together towns in these churches and houses of prayer, and giving alms and doing other pious and holy works by which Our Lord is praised and served.
The formal proceeding in Palencia went ahead, and on August 21 the bishop, after consultation with thirteen experts, declared that, “the sweat and drops of water… were seen clearly and patently all over the body of the holy crucifix and that when wiped off by the priests with altar cloths, the places wiped off became moist again and new drops emerged there, and that although people jogged and moved the holy crucifix, the drops of water and sweat did not fall off, but were seen to cling to it, and also the face of the Christ was seen to be afflicted in anguish and transformed, to the wonder and shock of all who saw it, and the face looked different from the way it was before and after.”
Fig. 17. Rev. Gabriel Pellitero with a relic of the altar cloth used in 1602 to wipe sweat from the Christ of Castilviejo, parish church of Santa María Mediavilla, Medina de Rioseco (Valladolid). Photo: The author. October 27, 1981. By permission.
He therefore proclaimed that “this occurrence should be considered a miracle that Our Lord Jesus Christ was served to do and work in his holy image and figure for the good of the Christian faithful” and ordered “all the faithful Christians of our diocese to venerate and hold it a miracle, and that it be written and put on a board on display… for the greater cult and veneration of his holy image.” The miracle testimony is a prized manuscript book in the municipal archive, and the stained altar cloth is kept as a relic in the sacristy of the church where the sweat was first noticed (Fig. 17).
What we are seeing, then, is a process whereby images become more special and shine in the constellation of grace, one way that, in the town lawyer’s words, images “become respected and are held in greater devotion.” He was aware that it happened elsewhere and not only in Spain. Pamphlets and published newsletters brought to public notice other instances in Italy, Mexico, and Goa, along with speculation about what they might mean as omens or portents. It was happening in Hungary as well, with a notable case in Győr in 1697 with a Madonna left in the cathedral by an exiled Irish bishop.
Not only did old images become active, but so did new ones. Around 1607 a priest who was born in Munébrega (Zaragoza) had a painting of Ignatius Loyola hung with those of other founders of religious orders in the church sacristy. In 1623, a year after Loyola’s canonization, the painting “sweated on the right side, under the arm, for four hours, and the sweat was an unusual liquid, that was neither water (though resembling it in color) nor oil, nor any other liquid that runs, but rather it welled out like some thick drops, and when they were wiped off, the same liquid welled out, and two cloths were made wet with it.” This occurred in days after the painting, placed on the altar by a Jesuit giving Lenten sermons, had begun to work miracles. While in the other cases studied miracles followed the image activation, here they preceded it, but in both situations new power streaming through the image was what the activation was all about.
Not everyone thought that a painting on a board could work miracles, and included in the published accounts is what happened to a scoffer in Calatayud, who said when a friend recounted his visit to Munébrega, “‘What miracles can a tabla [painting or board] work?’ and kneeling before a big board, which for many days had been leaning against the wall and could not easily be moved, said in contempt of the saint’s image, ‘Tabla, work miracles!’ And at once, the board fell on his head and a big blow made a big wound; and the wound to his body was the healing for his soul, straightened out by this means by God and Saint Ignatius, although the blasphemer, wary of the Inquisition, decamped from Calatayud. Reputable people from Calatayud who saw this are now in Madrid.”
A Jesuit commentator remarked on the congruence between the tenderness of their founder and the tenderness of the image, the capacity of their founder and the image to provoke tenderness and conversion in others, and the coincidence of the sweating with the martyrdom of Jesuits in Japan, Ethiopia, and the Indies. His book, published forty years after the events, reported a miraculous origin for the painting—that it was suggested and made by a mysterious pilgrim passing through Calatayud, permitting us to catch and date the mysterious pilgrim myth in the act.
It may be useful to think of these events as transformations of potential to kinetic energy. Religious images, all of them, are deposits of potential energy, which here becomes kinetic in two ways, by the physical changes themselves, the liquid emerging or dripping (however or whoever produced them), and by the signal that this change gives to people who thereby learn of the image’s available power and tap into it with supplication, respect, affection, prayer, and vow.
By this time in Spain the notion that images, especially crucifixes, were apt to bleed was so widespread that an activation could become publicly accepted in spite of testimony to the contrary. On July 12, 1633, in Vic, a priest in the chapel of the hospital noticed that drops of blood had appeared on the paten and the corporals while he had said Mass; and when he knelt to pray to know whether it was a divine manifestation or a human fraud, even more drops appeared. He and the few persons present at Mass looked to see where they could have come from. He checked his own nose to make sure he was not bleeding. They noted in particular that the blood could not have come from the large crucifix over the altar, since it was set well away from the cloths and covered with a veil. All this the priest and the others present told the bishop who came to hear their testimony. But already a legend was forming: a woman who had not seen the bleeding said she had heard in the market “that the Christ in the hospital had wept blood and water… and that at night she had heard the bell of the hospital ring twice.” The story of the bleeding Christ became local history, and although the crucifix had up until then received little devotion and almost no mention in the church records, until 1896 it was regularly brought out in petitionary processions for rainfall and against epidemics.
Fig. 18. Miracle of the Christ of El Bonillo, by Vicente López Portaña, a. 1810. Oil on canvas. Parish church of Santa Catalina, El Bonillo (Albacete). Courtesy of Ayuntamiento del Bonillo.
Spain in the 1640s, and especially the year 1640 itself, coinciding with the revolt of the Portuguese and the Catalans, saw an exceptional concentration of this kind of theophany, or at least of news about it. On March 4, Transfiguration Sunday, a wooden cross in El Bonillo underwent its own transfiguration (Fig. 18). According to the witnesses at the subsequent hearings, the cross was brought to the town by a woman who had moved to El Bonillo a decade earlier. She said she had been given the cross by a Franciscan who had brought it from Rome. After she died, the cross belonged to her widowed, remarried, and now separated husband, Antón Díaz. Painted on the front with a crucifix and on the back with Christ’s garments, the crown of thorns, and the instruments of the Passion, the cross by 1640 was considered special, and people asked to hold it when they were dying. Two years before, some recalled, they had seen a bright crucifix on a cloud above the owner’s house.
That Sunday morning, Díaz was sifting flour for bread when he looked up to see the crucifix sweating; he called in a neighbor woman and fetched a learned friar from the nearby Augustinian monastery who took the cross down and carried it into the light of the doorway. He saw that the body was covered with fine sweat, with larger drops on the arms and wounds, and that “the sweat boiled like that when an egg is baked in a fire.” With his index finger, he took a drop from the wound on the left side and put it to his eyes, nose, and tongue, noting a celestial odor and taste and feeling great solace in his heart, then saw another drop emerge in the same place. He was greatly moved and wept profusely, his own reactions convincing him of the authenticity of the miracle. After Mass, five priests checked the back of the image and found it and the cloth and wall behind it dry. They noted the image was too far from the ground for a cat or other animal to urinate on it (“as has happened on many such occasions”). The priests took the cross to the parish church, warning its owner to confess his sins, for this was surely a sign.
After the phase in which the sweat seemed to boil out, lasting about two hours, the liquid remained crystal clear, the fine part “as when a man is hot and tired,” and the larger drop on the side wound “shining like a silver sequin.” The sweat did not dry when the cross was carried to the parish church, where it was placed on the main altar; and the same drops apparently remained for seventeen days. They did not freeze there, despite a severe frost that left the water in the baptismal font frozen solid. The drops seem to have formed a kind of “skin” that held in a “celestial” odor until they were broken or wiped off. The townspeople were unable to identify the odor, so it must have been a substance not normally available there, but they agreed the smell “consoled” and “comforted” them.
Informed by the parish priest, the archdiocesan council of Toledo (the archbishop was away leading the war against the Protestants in the Netherlands) had the parish priest take down testimony, which he did from six women and thirty-seven men, including a panel of painters.
Early on, when the image was unveiled and carried around inside the parish church, one man noted for his devoutness saw seven stars brighter than the sun’s rays around the image. Six weeks after the sweating the image was being invoked in accidents as the Santo Cristo del Milagro. When a young painter from the town testified, he suggested it was more than an ordinary painting: “it is something supernatural and miraculous… every time that this witness has seen it, it has made his hair stand on end and put him in awe, because the head has the greatest beauty and aliveness that there is in all the art of painting.”
The archdiocesan council decreed that the sweat and a man’s remarkable survival from an accident could be publicized as miracles, and the two events could be depicted in paintings. A chapel was built for the image in the church, and eventually a painting by Vicente Lopez commissioned of the moment in which the Augustinian looked at the crucifix in the house.
Holy Week was an appropriate time for an image of Christ to sweat or bleed. In 1644 another activation, this time with a painting of the Veronica, took place in the town of Osa de la Vega (Cuenca), about one hundred kilometers to the north from El Bonillo. On Holy Thursday, while the matins ceremony was in progress (that is, as was later pointed out, at the same month, day, and hour as Christ sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane), a woman went to fetch a penitential tunic and cord for a male neighbor to wear in the Vera Cruz brotherhood procession. She saw that the Veronica painting there was lit up and that there were drops of blood and water or sweat on it. The news led to acclamation and tumult. This time it was a Dominican who was called in, and he saw that “the countenance of Our Lord Jesus Christ was fiery and flushed, as when a person is very fatigued and tired, the face changing as with interior anguish.” Like the friar in El Bonillo, the Dominican tasted the liquid and put it in his eyes. Only he actually saw the liquid emerge. After the matins ceremony the parish priest took the image to the parish church and locked it away.
That night the penitential procession was exceptionally tearful and bloody. Fearful that the sweating was a bad omen or divine sorrow for their sins, people called out for divine mercy and reproduced in their bodies the anguish of the image in a multiple mimesis between divine prototype, image taking life, and human penitents. When the priest looked at the Veronica next, on Saturday morning, it again had blood and water on it; it sweated a third and final time that afternoon and the wet altar cloths were saved as relics. The painting was quickly put to work to repel a hailstorm. And a month after the sweating it was attracting a hundred supplicants daily and six hundred on feast days. In the first three months the parish priest recorded twenty miracles among the lame, the sick, and the blind.
As in El Bonillo, the diocese ordered a formal hearing, and on March 23, 1645, the bishop of Cuenca, backed by a synod, declared the event “a miracle with no suspicion of a natural cause within the limits of what the human frailty and discernment is able to understand and judge. And for this reason this painting is worthy of being placed in greater veneration than it is now.”
The next year yet another Christ sweated in New Castile. It too was noted in a Jesuit letter, right after mentions of a Christ that wept blood in Parma, a newborn child that declared “God is very angry,” and an earthquake in Livorno. “The Countess of Puñoenrostro told a Father from this school that in one of her villages named Alcobendas a Christ had sweated, and that several times when the curate wiped it off, it sweated anew. Would that God improve these omens!”
On Thursday, May 10, 1646, Ascension Day, on the occasion of a drought, the people of Alcobendas (like the people of Medina de Rioseco in 1602) went in procession to the shrine of Our Lady of the Peace, a fifteen–minute walk outside the town, to bring the shrine image back with them. At the shrine, people said prayers not only to the main image but also to three Holy Week procession images—Our Lady of Soledad, Christ Carrying the Cross, and Christ at the Column. The Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ had been storing these images there since their own chapel had collapsed several years before. The Christ at the Column was natural size; it had been made about forty years before and was normally taken out on the night of Holy Thursday.
It was about four in the afternoon and the procession with Our Lady of the Peace was just departing. A group of at least four women and some seasonal workers from districts to the south were still in the chapel praying to the remaining images. The women, known for their devoutness and charity, kissed the feet of the Christ at the Column and noticed that the image had taken on a humanness that it had not had before. The face was flushed and the eyes red, as if in anguish. Then they saw that it was sweating. The natural hair was wet, the neck moist, and, in particular, there was a drop of water on the right elbow.
One of them went out and called a former municipal leader. He came and saw the water, wiped it off with his handkerchief, and called the priest, who came in with his assistant and many people. The procession, with priests singing and devotional banners deployed, was by then about a hundred paces away. When it stopped, some people thought it was because of a fight, “as was common.”
Inside the chapel, the priest examined the statue, touched a drop with his right index finger, showed it to those present, and, in a gesture we now recognize, put it in his eye, “as a relic.” Note that by putting the drop of Christ’s liquid into his eye, the priest, like the friars before him, was incorporating Christ’s humors into his own, one more step into the complex mimicry involved (including the statue of the flagellation of Christ, which was normally carried about accompanied by men flagellating themselves). The priest’s assistant also moistened his fingers, showed them to the people, and then moistened his own eye. The former municipal leader again wiped off the statue with his handkerchief, which he touched to his eyes and put inside his shirt. The people cried out, “Miracle! Miracle! The Christ is sweating!” and crowded into the chapel. They touched the image with rosaries and handkerchiefs. Weeping variously (they later testified) out of fear, tenderness, wonder, joy, or devotion, they asked for mercy. The clergy feared people would knock over the papier-mâché statue. A notary, outside, was called in to confirm the sweat.
It was decided to bring the Christ image back to town in the procession. Outside, small drops continued to appear where they had been wiped off and also on the legs as well as on the arms and side. People who before had not been able to get close could confirm the miracle personally. Spontaneously people took off their shirts and flagellated themselves, walking before the image. By the time the procession reached town, it was dark. The image was put in the parish church in the chapel of the Sweet Name of Jesus with many candles lit before it, and there it seemed to regain its composure.
The next day, Friday, May 11, 1646, the town officials petitioned the vicar-general in nearby Madrid for an official investigation, which was ordered at once. On Saturday the assistant vicar-general arrived in Alcobendas and issued a call for witnesses, including a blind woman who had been cured. Over two days he heard twenty-three witnesses, examined the image, and visited the shrine of Our Lady of the Peace.
During the month of May the parish church was filled daily with people from Alcobendas and the surrounding villages making petitions, ordering Masses, and bringing wax arms, legs, heads, and hearts as votive offerings. The brotherhood majordomo furnished people with ribbons as long as the image, and oil from the lamp for healing. People also took roses from in front of the image for sacred keepsakes. Testimony about healing miracles was taken on eight days in May and June from twenty-four men and thirteen women. All said they were convinced of the miraculousness of the sweat and the cures. They believed that the Christ at the Column wanted people to know they had a new protector in him and he would help them out “in calamitous times” and that they in turn should show him devotion. They dismissed the investigator’s queries about possible fraud on the part of the shrine keeper or the devout women (the former out of self-interest, the latter to gain credit as holy) and ruled out other natural causes such as humidity in the shrine, rain, holy water from the shrine entrance, water from the keeper cleaning the shrine, or holy water from a hyssop. According to one witness, those present at the miracle even seven weeks later still wept when remembering it, and no one murmured against it.
The investigator made his report on June 22, and it was evaluated by a Jesuit and a parish priest in Madrid, a Dominican from Salamanca, and a Minim from Alcalá de Henares. They confirmed the miraculous nature of the events and interpreted them as an indication that the image should be turned to for help. On September 13 the decision was read in public in Alcobendas with the vicar-general present. A transcript of the testimony was delivered to the town in November and, when I saw it, was still in the parish archive.
At Alcobendas it was women, who spent more time with images and were more likely to have closer emotional connections with them, who first discovered there was a liquid on the image, as at Osa de la Vega and Medina del Rioseco. But for these very reasons, and many others (ecclesiastical traditions of their supposed foolishness, lack of criteria and emotionality, plus their overall lack of authority in the public sphere) municipal and Church authorities were less likely to believe women and called few as witnesses. When three women were the first to see a crucifix had a bloody sweat in Igualada in 1590, they later testified, they went out to the street “to find a man to see it, because we would not be believed.”
Most of the cases at this time, or at least the ones most publicized, seem to have involved images of Christ. His Passion, including sweating and bleeding, was after all the stuff of the central life story for European Catholics and the daily ritual acted out in their churches. In the shift in this period in Spain toward a greater devotion to Christ, these events served to “fix” devotion to Christ in particular images.
In addition to drought, Holy Week processions and the fervor of new miracles, there was an older, continued occasion for image activation: the imminent presence of external danger in the form of inter-communal strife or warfare. There were spates of image activation in 1520, 1525, and 1526 in towns and villages with high proportions of Moslem converts. In 1631 a concocted story about a crucifix that allegedly cried out when under abuse by Portuguese conversos in Madrid became the pretext for a wholesale persecution. And there were others in 1640 in Catalan villages close to French or Castilian troops, in 1675 and 1677 during the sieges of Oran by the Turks, and during the protracted War of Spanish Succession at the start of the eighteenth century.
People related the sweating of a painting of Saint Francis in the parish priest’s house in the village of Traíd from November 1 to December 10, 1710, for instance, to decisive battles on December 8, 9 and 10 (Fig. 19). Franciscans immediately took notice, and simultaneous investigations were led by a representative of the diocese and a Franciscan from nearby Molina de Aragón, hearing a total of twenty-two witnesses, including three painters.
Fig. 19. Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. Unknown artist, c. 1680. Parish church, Traíd (Guadalajara). Image seen to sweat in 1710 and 1713 Photo: The author.
One account of the Traíd case placed its readers on warning, reviving a trope we have seen before: “Especially one must be careful about the sweating of images; because we know from experience that many are vain artifice, caused either by the blind affection that people have for an image to win it greater devotion, or by the hasty greed of shrine keepers or sextons, who do not want to live by the sweat of their brow, but rather by the sweat of the image.”
Indeed, as time went on, common sense seems to have reasserted itself, perhaps because of a general overload of instances and certainly in keeping with the deemphasis on images among a clergy increasingly influenced by French trends and increasingly scientific procedures for the evaluation of miracles in Rome. This decline of certified activations in the eighteenth century paralleled the decline of flagellation in Holy Week and petitionary processions.
For each “successful” image activation there were many “failed” ones, miracles interrupted. Some of them we can read about in cases brought before the Inquisition: beatas who put liquids on their devotional images to gain followers or be known as holy; shrine keepers who put blood on images to make them popular; and private individuals who did so with private images for pious reasons or to become shrine keepers. One of the latter was Francisco Martinez, the transhumant shepherd who in 1727 made up the story of an angel–like pilgrim that predicted rain. Martínez lived near the village where the St. Francis painting sweated and was himself a prime example of the “hasty greed” that the Traíd pamphlet warned about.
Martinez told people that the pilgrim had announced a miracle for the next Ascension Day and said that Martínez’s crucifix was giving off blood. What actually happened with this crucifix, he later told the Inquisition, is that “I would dip the holy crucifix in water or splash it with water, and put blood drawn from my finger on it.”
Martinez did this four times as he led his sheep on the long return trip northward from winter pastures (once at a town near Casas de Benitez, itself probably on his route). When he did so, he acted out the symptoms of the crucifix and trembled or feigned pain as a sign that the crucifix was bleeding, like the English cleric penanced two hundred years before in London. The last time was in a village not far from the place where he lived; there his companions informed the parish priest, who confiscated the crucifix, saying the bleeding was a fraud, something that Martínez, who seems rather innocent, then freely admitted.
When Martinez reached his home village of Taravilla, the fame of his crucifix had preceded him, and the townspeople demanded to see it. Outraged that it had been taken away, the people and their priest went with Martinez to try and get the crucifix back. But when Martinez was alone with the two priests he again admitted his deception, and they would not return it.
Determined to obtain the miraculous Christ for their town, the people of Taravilla then wanted Martinez to appeal to the bishop of Cuenca, but as the time for his miracle on Ascension Day was nearing, the shepherd came up with an alternative. From a street niche in the town of his birth he stole a stone image of Mary and stashed it on the hillside above Taravilla. On Ascension Day he told the priest the Virgin had appeared to him and revealed where her statue was hidden. By this time the priest knew Martinez was up to no good, but he and the sexton dutifully retrieved the image. When they brought it to the church, the townspeople rang the bells in celebration. They declared Martinez a saint, their own St. Francis, and tried to take snippets from his clothes as relics. People streamed in from the surrounding towns and chipped off stone from the hillside where the image had been found.
Hauled before the Inquisition, Martinez denied he had played these tricks to be treated as a saint or so people would think he had healing powers. He did it, he said, for pious reasons, in order to collect alms to redeem the Christian captives in North Africa, to have Masses said for those in mortal sin, and to move people to pray the Rosary. The Inquisition finally turned him over to the civil authorities, judging him simply lazy and wanting to eat and drink without working.
The skepticism among priests that Martínez encountered in 1728 was in keeping with that of the clergy in general by that time. The next year the learned and hard-headed Benedictine Feijóo wrote, “How many sobs, or mysterious sweats in sacred images became known in various countries which had no more existence than that provided by mistaken eyesight or fanatical imagination! In the first years of this century the sweating of a Crucifix was proclaimed… as a symptom of the illness that Spain was then suffering, and the news spread to other countries as true, when it was just a fable.” He went on to praise the rectitude of the corregidor of Ágreda who in 1665 had the elderly servant of a priest whipped though the streets. The servant had faked the bleeding of a crucifix that had belonged to the mystic Maria de Ágreda and had been willed to the servant’s master, the mystic’s nephew. The fraud had provoked “the wonder of everyone, nobles and plebes. There were rogations, processions, vows, and alms.” The fact that the crucifix had be-longed to a mystic nun, popularly considered a saint, enhanced the plausibility of its animation, as with the pedigree of the crucifix in El Bonillo, said to have been brought from Rome.
As earlier at Ágreda, authorities by the mid-eighteenth century short-circuited many of the public activations, no matter how eager the public. In 1755 in the town of La Guardia in Andalusia when an image of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Dominican convent wept blood, the liquid in question was found to be pomegranate juice. In Palma de Mallorca in 1768, people gathered in front of the Jesuit church convinced that the stone image of Our Lady on the building’s exterior had moved its hands from a joined to a crossed position in protest against the expulsion of the Jesuits. The royal government, backed by the bishop, responded firmly, dispersing the crowd and arresting those who had started the rumor. The last great hurrah for image activation in Southern Europe before its revival in the twentieth century was the weeping and eye movements of multiple statues in the Papal States in 1795-1796 in advance of the Napo-leonic invasion.
Fig. 20. Esperanza Aparicio Buendía wearing the medal presented to her and other women jailed in 1937 for their defense of the image of the Santo Cristo del Milagro of El Bonillo (Albacete). Photo: The author, October 24, 1976.
In any case, most of the images whose cases we have looked at are still important for many inhabitants in their respective towns. People in Osa de la Vega, where the Veronica sweated in 1644, considered that the painting spared them from the great flu epidemic of 1914. When a Republican commission sought to re-move the Christ of the Miracles from El Bonillo for safekeeping in 1937, a group of women defended it, and they were jailed as a result. The Franco regime subsequently awarded them medals (Fig. 20). While in jail, two of them told me forty years later, they saw a cross in the sky, framed against the moon. During the Civil War, as images were burned throughout the Republican zone, revolutionaries in one village took the time to chip away every bit of a mural crucifix that had sweated in 1768 and had come to symbolize a power structure they had replaced. After the Civil War the mural was carefully repainted.
Several aspects of these events, not the least the characteristics of some of the liquids (non-evaporating, often perfumed) and the significance of many of the dates (Thursdays, Fridays, Easter Sunday, Transfiguration Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Ascension Thursday) point to what could be termed “intelligent design” in several of these events. One cannot rule out, for instance, the existence of a kind of pharmaceutical lore, circulating among the dispensaries of certain religious orders. The Augustinians, erstwhile keepers of the Christ of Burgos (reputed to sweat every Friday), had a conspicuous presence in several cases.
But the whodunit question should not distract us from the central cultural fact of the eager receptiveness, the active collaboration in the certification of these events, and the promotion of these images by the authorities and citizens of the towns involved. This receptiveness was rooted in the constant, urgent search for divine helpers on a corporate and personal level, and in the highly-tuned sense in Spain’s city, town, and village states of being God’s chosen place.
The identification of town as Jerusalem, through the erections of Calvaries and Stations of the Cross and the entire intense sequence of Holy Week ceremonies and processions already applied to virtually every nuclear settlement in Spain. These image activations dramatically recharged the metaphor. The images involved became proofs, relics, and trophies, demonstrations of the power of images in the face of local and international religious enemies, but especially demonstrations of God’s vital residence in their particular place, as opposed to, say, the next town over.
Time and again we saw how the laypeople and clergy knew what to do in these situations, what questions to ask, what to look for. While the events were rare enough to provoke great excitement, they were part of the established cultural repertoire of early modern Catholic Europe. Although a few of the images that temporarily came to life may have done so with an initial advantage—because they were reputedly not made by humans, in the case of Veronicas, or were the replica of an image known to be powerful, in the case of the Christ of Burgos in Cabra del Santo Cristo—the vast majority of those that did so were simple, workaday crucifixes or paintings, unremarkable and hitherto unremarked. That indeed was and is an important lesson of most of these events, that every image, in addition to representing the divine, could embody it.
It was not unusual for the devout to have a sense that their private devotional images were responding orally as well as visually to prayer. From this perspective, the display of blood, sweat and tears on images was an extension into the public realm of a private two-way channel of devotional communication that was a free zone beyond the control of confessors and inquisitors. The care with which small crucifixes or Baby Jesuses were willed from one woman to another is an indication of the intensity of these devotions in the home or in the dressing room. In this zone, of which we read quite uninhibited accounts in pious biographies, images may smile, nod, knock, blanch, glower, twist in anguish. But there is no implication or expectation that others may share these private experiences. The presence of divine liquid on a statue is qualitatively different because it is verifiable by others, and in the episodes here that started in the private sphere, the news passed immediately from home to street.
We have seen the rise from the early sixteenth century, the cresting in the 1640s and the surfeit and decline in the eighteenth century of the acceptance of public blood, sweat and tear miracles by Church and civil authorities that became publicly known.
[LEFT]: Fig. 21. Christ at the Column, early sixteenth century. Polychromed wood. Santuario–Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Monlora, Luna (Zaragoza), seen to sweat in 1629 and 1630. Courtesy of Hermandad de Ntra. Sra. de Monlora.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 22. Miracle board, c. 1630. Santuario-Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Monlora, Luna (Zaragoza). Photo: The author.
While by the eighteenth century the authorities were wary of new activations, the images certified as having sweated, wept and bled waited patiently, alive and well, for times to change and the clergy to be less rigorous. And along with these images, their approved miracle boards, their paintings, their miracle days on which their activation was recalled in sermons, so too waited the general idea of image animation for new public cycles. (Figs. 21 23.)
[LEFT]: Fig. 23. The Virgin of the Miracle, patroness of Cocentaina (Alicante). Postcard, 1945, on the silver anniversary of the coronation, from a dentist in Cocentaina to student in Santiago de Compostela. “…you cannot imagine the hullabaloo in the town…”
[RIGHT]: Fig. 24. Main altar of the parish church of San Pedro, Limpias (Cantabria), with the image of the Christ of Limpias. Photo: Felipe Pereda, August 2010. By permission.
In Spain one such cycle began in 1919, in the context of a Catholicism experienced as under siege from Republican, Socialist and anarchist unbelievers. The Christ of Agony in the parish church of Limpias in Cantabria first showed signs of life during a Capuchin mission (Fig. 24). On the first day there was a sweat-like condensation on the image, but that only happened once, and the miracle people came to expect was movement in the eyes, mouth, face, and changes in complexion, as though the image was looking at people, responding to them, or, eventually, dying in the throes of agony (Fig. 25). Over the next few years a quarter of a million people went to see it, and about one in fifteen saw it come alive (Fig. 26). The diocese opened an investigation and concluded that the visions were subjective and the fruit of suggestion and artificial lighting, but never made a public pronouncement. Official pilgrimages led by bishops tailed off, and in the mid- to late–1920s pilgrimages were mainly from outside Spain, including biannual pilgrimages by Austrians and Hungarians. Many of the pilgrims stopped to visit the Habsburg imperial family in exile in the Spanish Basque Country. The Hungarians set up shrines to Limpias in Budapest and Lillafüred.
[LEFT]: Fig. 25. Postecard sampler, Limpias, c. 1919, of José Martínez.
[CENTER]: Fig. 26. Pilgrimage group at Limpias, undated. Photo: José Martínez.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 27. The bleeding statues of Templemore, Ireland, 1921. Photo: W.D. Hogan. Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.
Other similar events preceded it, most immediately, an episode of a crucifix in Gandía in 1918, that seemed to bleed until the blood turned out to be paint, paint apparently applied by a teenage girl. And others followed Limpias: a series of crucifixes that seemed to move in Navarre in 1920, the news quashed by the bishop because they would damage the case for Limpias and open the faith to ridicule. As with the rain processions and apparitions, the tradition of animated statues was the subject of ridicule among Spanish Republicans and anticlericals, who attributed the events to the manipulation of the clergy and the gullibility of believers and considered it part of a system of domination.
In August 1921 in Templemore in Ireland, in the thick of guerrilla warfare against the British troops and just as the news of the Limpias crucifix was becoming known there, some images associated with a young man seemed to bleed (Fig. 27) and tens of thousands of pilgrims went to see them until after a couple of months the youth was discredited.
[LEFT]: Fig. 28. Marie Mesmin and the oratory of the Santissima Bambina, Bordeaux. Postcard.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 29. The Santissima Bambina of Marie Mesmin. “Picture of the Statue that wept frequendy in the presence of about one thousand witnesses in Bordeaux at number 13 July 30th Street from Dec. 19, 1911, to Jan. 20, 1913, when it was moved to the Oratory of Boulevard de Bouscat 26…” Postcard.
There were other episodes associated with small cults like that of the lay mystic Marie Mesmin of Bordeaux (1867-1935). She had a Lourdes image that allegedly wept from 1907 until 1910, when it was confiscated by Church authorities. She replaced it with an Italian Baby Mary that wept from 1911 until 1913. (Figs. 28-29.) Similarly a French parish priest, l’abbé Vachère de Grateloup, from 1911 until his death in 1921 had images that seemed to bleed and weep. These included successive pictures of the Sacred Heart as well as other images and consecrated hosts. These phenomena occurred in Mirebeau-en-Poitou, as well as on a visit in 1920 to Aix-la-Chapelle (Fig. 30). Vachère would also hear Christ speak, and during the war Christ predicted France’s victory. The priest distributed miniature photographs, daubed with the images’ blood, as talismans for soldiers.
[LEFT]: Fig. 30. The bleeding Sacred Heart of Mirebeau-en-Poitou c. 1911. Recopied photo postcard for sale by Joaquín Sicart, Ezquioga, 1932.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 31. Angelo and Antonina Jannuso with the Weeping Madonna of Siracusa, 1953. Photo: Maltese-Siracusa, all rights reserved.
But the only well-publicized and Church–certified episode of an image with liquid on it in twentieth-century Europe was the plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary belonging to Antonina and Angelo Jannuso in Siracusa, Sicily (Fig. 31). For four days starting on August 29, 1953, the image gave off what seemed to be human tears, first in the Jannuso bedroom, then in the police station, then again in the house, purportedly convincing Communists, Freemasons and Protestants. An initial commission including a chemist, a medical doctor, priests and police officers examined the image and tasted and tested the tears, which seemed to be human. The image was moved to a niche outside on the street, and on September 19 escorted by the archbishop to the Piazza Euripide, where people continued to touch it with flowers, photographs, or cotton sold at the site, all potential relics for grace and healing. (Figs. 32-33.) Dozens of cures ensued.
[LEFT]: Fig. 32. Franciscans relaying flowers, pictures, handkerchiefs and cotton to be touched to the image, Piazza Euripide. Photo: Walter Carone, Paris Match, Oct. 3, 1953, p. 53, all rights reserved.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 33. Stand selling cotton and photographs to be touched to the Madonna, Piazza Euripide, Siracusa, Photo: Walter Carone, Paris Match, Oct. 3, 1953, p. 53, all rights reserved.
The joint declaration by Sicilian bishops on the “reality at the start of the Marian year, encouraged a host of similar image activations across Europe. The long-distance distribution of blessed cotton was similar to that of Lourdes water. In Spain a shrine to the Siracusa weeping image was set up in Ciudad Real, and the priest there distributed pieces of cotton that that been touched to the Siracusa image (Fig. 34), while a priest in Belgium did so with holy cards with cotton relics that had been touched to cotton with the tears (Fig. 35). Photography better communications, mass market photo journalism, radio and television, sped up and internationalized the news and the model, for which there was a ready and eager audience during the struggle between Catholics and Communist Parties across Europe.
[LEFT]: Fig. 34. Envelope containing Siracusa cotton relic distributed from Ciudad Real, Spain. “Cotton blessed and touched to the miraculous image of the Virgin of the Tears. Sent by the Archdiocesan Curia of Siracusa” [1950s?].
[RIGHT]: Fig. 35. Holy card with color photo taken at Siracusa Aug. 30, 1953 and “cotton that touched cloth soaked in the tears of Our Lady.” Propagande Mariale Ciney, imprimatur Diocese of Namur, July 1, 1955.
In Spain three cases became known: an image of the Miraculous Mary on the main altar of the church of Entrecruces (La Coruña) that appeared to weep on eleven different days from February 11 to April 21, 1954; a similar incident with a Immaculate Heart of Mary in another Galician village in 1954-1955; and a weeping lithograph of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in a village of Cuenca, Villalba de la Sierra, in September 1959 (Fig. 36) of the weeping ceased when the commission of skeptical urns or frames. In the Entrecruces case diocesan commission of skeptical priests sent the tears for chemical analysis and found they were largely water.
[LEFT]: Fig. 36. “The New Virgin of the Tears” detail, cover of Sábado Gráfico (Madrid), Oct. 24, 1959, with the article by Javier Querol, “The Mystery of Some Tears,” about Villalba de la Sierra (Cuenca). All rights reserved.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 37. The bleeding hand of Saint Anne of Entrevaux, signed on back “Jean Salvada, 1957”. Postcard c. 1953-1954, Nice, Photomic, From http://www.delcampe.net.
In France, another Francisco Martinez emerged when the café owner Jean Salvadé read of the Siracusa events and created his own autonomous Siracusa in the medieval tourist town of Entrevaux (Fig. 37). On November 29, 1953, Salvadé purchased an image of St. Anne teaching the child Mary to read. He broke off and reglued one of St. Anne’s fingers, and during a poker game on December 26 put the image next to him for good luck. When he lost the hand he was playing he kicked the image over, snapping off the finger. On December 28, he pricked his own finger, bloodied the broken hand of the image, then pretended to discover the miracle, with the idea that the image was bleeding because of his blasphemy (Fig. 38).
[LEFT]: Fig. 38. “Sainte-Anne d’Entrevaux” Postcard, c. 1953-54, signed on back “Jean Salvade, 1957”. His signature was crossed out and the card used for an entry to a contest of La Vie Catholique Illustrée, Paris. Nice, Photomic.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 39. “Entrevaux, Ste Anne Miraculeuse. Gisèle AUBERT et sa mère, janvier 1954.” Snapshot 6.5×11.3. Photographer unknown.
The chain of events that followed was somewhat similar to that in early modern Spain, except that the French clergy wanted nothing to do with it. As townspeople flocked in (Fig. 39), Salvadé got the local photographer to document the bleeding, the doctor to examine it (he sent a blood sample to the pharmacist in a nearby town who certified it was human) (Fig. 40) and a radiologist from Nice to come and make an X-ray of the statue to show there was no hidden mechanism. Reporters, photographers and newsreel cameramen came from Paris, Dublin, and the United States, and Salvadé cultivated an ascetic persona, modeled on Gandhi, turning his eyes heavenward when faced with hard questions. He left plates out for contributions and sold signed postcards of the image and the hand, and soon miracles began to occur among the pilgrims who came to be healed by Salvadé’s touch. As at Siracusa, a film crew came to document the story (Fig. 41).
[LEFT]: Fig. 40. “The conclusion of Dr. Monner and the pharmacist Laïk was definite: the blood of the Virgin was human blood.” From Salvadé confession series, France-Dimanche, Feb. 16, 1961, p. 8, all rights reserved.
[CENTER]: Fig. 41. “The last pilgrimage of school children before the departure of Saint Anne.” Paris Match, Dec. 25, 1954, p. 65, all rights reserved.
[RIGHT]: Fig 43. “I made the Virgin’s statue bleed.” Headline, France-Dimanche, Feb. 9, 1961, p. 8, all rights reserved.
Also as at Siracusa, Salvade distributed pieces of cotton with the blood, of which of course he had an abundant supply (Fig. 42). When local interest waned, he joined forces with a like-minded Florentine and exhibited the statue in Paris. There Salvadé could escape the obligations of a holy man and could live a life of ease.
The film was shown in 1957 to little success, and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris warned people against it. The Florentine absconded with the money of wealthy believers. And in 1958 Salvadé brought the image back to Entrevaux, where his supporters were loyal but few in number. He finally sold the story of how he had invented the whole enterprise (and how he was just as surprised as anybody by the miracles) to the sensationalist newspaper France-Dimanche (Fig. 43), which published it in five full-page episodes in February 1961 (Fig. 44) The police promptly intervened, and in 1962 Salvadé was condemned to thirteen months in prison.
Fig. 42. Envelope and relic. “Two drops of blood from the first bleeding of the statue of Ste. Anne on Dec. 28, 1953 between 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning. Given by M. Jean Salvadé à Entrevaux on Monday, February 22, 1954.” In a celluloid holder with a postcard of the image signed by Jean Salvadé.
When, decades later, a police-inspector-turned journalist interviewed him in an old age home, Salvadé reneged, saying the bleeding was genuine and he had confessed just for the money, leading us to the eternal conundrum, applicable to Francisco Martinez as well, of just when a fibber is telling the truth.
There have continued to be news stories about liquid on images in Spain and Southern Europe, and worldwide in Orthodox and Coptic churches and homes. There was a related spate in Ireland on the heels of Medjugorje enthusiasm, from February 1985 to the fall of 1986 (but without liquid: the statues, mostly those of Mary in outdoor Lourdes grottos erected in 1954, were simply seen to move, as at Limpias) and in the 1990s, in Italy, with the most famous instance in Civitavecchia, where the bleeding Madonna had been purchased at Medjugorje by the parish priest, a Spaniard, and given to the local prayer group.
Fig. 44. “First I pricked my finger.” France-Dimanche, Feb. 9, 1961, p. 8, all rights reserved.
These manifestations no longer serve as sympathetic consolation for towns in times of drought or other travails, in part because towns are no longer sufficiently homogenous arenas for religious interpretation, and in part because travails no longer have credibly local causes. If a manifestation receives publicity the meaning attributed to it quickly transcends the local community drawn out by specialized interpreters into a national or world-wide interpretive etiology often involving the end times. Of course, we are less likely to know about events that have not received or carefully side-stepped publicity and remained local.
A critical change from the early modern episodes is that photography, film and video have become the key means of demonstrating reality, replacing in the popular mind sworn testimony (Fig. 45). The depictions of these miracles in seventeenth-century Spain were highly controlled and permitted only after episcopal approval. In the twentieth century, photographs and films became evidence in the deliberative process both for Church authorities and for public opinion.
Fig. 45. Sign in street stand, Siracusa. “The only photograph included in the Acts of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal.” Detail. Photo: Walter Carone, Paris Match, Oct. 3, 1953, p. 53, detail, all rights reserved.
The nature of the substance has changed along with methods for its analysis. In several early modern cases, the efforts of artists, pharmacists and doctors were to eliminate the possibility that it was a human substance or a known perfume or preparation, with the underlying idea, shared with ancient Greek religion, that it was some kind of ichor, the fluid in the gods’ veins. Perhaps because of refined methods for chemical analysis, and perhaps with a more human and less hieratic idea of the divinity, the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Catholic cases emphasize and accept as positive evidence that the blood, sweat or tears is human (or as negative evidence that the blood is animal). But the advent of DNA forensics by the end of the 1980s has added a serious complication to the likes of Francisco Martinez and Jean Salvadé. In Civitavecchia, when the blood on the Madonna turned out to have male DNA (Mary as Father?) and the image’s owner refused to let his blood be tested, the events lost whatever remained of their credibility.
What has not changed much is the personal use to which the divine liquids are put (Fig. 46). The liquid is tasted, if no longer applied to the eye. The relic on cotton is touched to the wound and carried for protection. This universal, never-ending demand for the divine touch is more than enough to make it likely that images exude in the future, although the possibility of official certification has dramatically declined. The idea of a new beacon for healing and consolation in the constellation of grace remains, however truncated most of the recent attempts have been to achieve it through animated images. Devotees of St. Anne of Entrevaux swear that they saw the image move and embrace them.
Fig. 46. A bottle of cotton soaked in tears, Siracusa. Paris Match, Sept. 26, 1953, p. 26, all rights reserved.
And surely the idea of verisimilitude is so built into the notion of representation that from the dawn of time not just any religious image, but, as with Pygmalion, any image at all of a living being has built into it the idea, the prospect of animation. The demand for animation itself from photograph to animated sequence, to moving pictures, to moving pictures with sound and color, to 3D and holograms exemplifies this principle. The communication of gods through their images, sharing their pain, their wounds, their sorrow and their travails through blood, sweat and tears, takes the process one step farther, crossing the cognitive, emotional, and physiological boundaries between human and supernatural beings.
1 An earlier version of the first part of this paper appeared as “Images as Beings” in the exhibition catalogue Sacred Spain. Art and Belief in the Spanish World, ed. Ronda Kasl, whose help and that of Suso Mourelo in locating illustrations I most gratefully acknowledge.
2 For this use of “special” I have been influenced by Ann Taves in conversations and her Religious Experience Reconsidered.
3 For general considerations on the miraculousness of images, Trexler, “Being and Non-Being,” Vauchez, “Les images saintes,” Schmitt, Le Corps des images.
4 Christian, Apariciones; for Guadalupe, Crémoux, Pèlerinages et miracles.
5 Freedberg, Power, 283–316; for a late medieval spate of Eucharistic miracles in Germany, see Bynum, Wonderful Blood, and Merback, “Channels of Grace.”
6 García Avilés “Imágenes ‘vivientes’”; for Italy, Jansen, “Miraculous Crucifixes,” and Camille, Gothic Idol, 220–24, 232–36.
7 The concentration in Old and New Castile and Catalonia of most of the examples in this paper should not be taken as an indication of the real geographical distribution of this kind of event, but more likely as an indication of which ones made it into print (hence a bias toward Madrid and Barcelona and their hinterlands) and thus came to my notice. The list in Christian, Religiosidad local, 237, 337–39, is perforce haphazard, and as a general rule the more one looks the more one finds. Events with political implications (here those of Nuévalos, Tobed Llers, Riudarenas, Olot, Orán, Murcia, Traíd) and those involving images or devotions closely associated with religious orders are also more likely to be publicized (here Munébrega for the Jesuits, and Traíd, for the Franciscans).
8 Christian, “Provoked Religious Weeping”; Veratelli, “Les Emotions en images”; Webster, Art and Ritual; Webster, “Shameless Beauty”; Llompart “Procesión del Encuentro”; Español, “Descendimientos hispanos”; and for present-day eye contact between images and people, Pasqualino, “Quand les yeux.” For people as saints and vice versa in contemporary festivals, many of them with early modern roots, see Christian, “Sobrenaturales, humanos, animales.”
9 Wriothesley and Herald, Chronicle, 1: 74, 90, 152; for Hales, see also 76.
10 Alonso Fernández de Madrigal, Confessional, under Primer Mandamiento: “por ende quando toman especial deuocion mas con vna ymagen que con otra pecan”; “y dizen que lloran las ymagines y que echan lagrimas muy dulces y ello es agua y miel que por detras les echan; lo qual seria assaz de consentir en el tíenpo que a los ydolos adorauan. E si estos que esto leuantan no hiziessen en ello otro mal: sino que sacas sen el dinero avnque es cosa de mal exenplo: empero encima del lo que es lo peor fazen a la gente necia ydolatrar: y a los tales: no solamente se deuia de dar gran castigo mas la tierra no los deuia sufrir.” See also Alemán, Antonio de Padua, fol. 78v.
11 Valer a, Los dos tratados, 326: “¡Oh zeguedad ignorante i ignoranzia ziega! ¿Cuántas imájines han hablado? ¿Cuántas han sudado, i aun gotas de sangre? Al cruzifijo de Burgos, cree la jente ignorante, que le creze la barba i los cabellos, i aun las uñas.” For the Christ of Burgos and the important antecedent of the Christ of Beirut, see Pereda, Imágenes de la discordia, 132–38.
12 The Council of Trent is mentioned explicitly in the Medina de Rioseco case below; see also Prieto, Probanza; for the 1617 retrospective hearing on the 1490 apparitions of the Virgin in Escalona (Segovia), see Christian, Apariciones, 142–50; and for the elaborate hearings about the relics of the Sacromonte, 1595–1600, Harris, From Muslim to Christian; for Arjona, 1628–46, see Olds, “The ’False Chronicles’.”
13 The acts of two notaries are reproduced photographically and transcribed in Garcías Palou, El Santo Cristo de Alcudia.
14 “Instrumento Público, que se formó en la averiguación del prodigio que se vio, de sudar sangre y agua, la sagrada Imagen del Santo Cristo de la villa de Igualada,” in Díaz i Carbonell, El Sant Crist, 213–40. See also Colomer, Historia.
15 Muñóz Fernández, “Las cofradías”; and Flynn, “Baroque Piety.”
16 Díaz i Carbonell, El Sant Crist, 233: “que estaba lo Cristo ab gran treball y agonía, com aquellas personas que sels acosta la hora de la mort, y estant pera donar la anima a nostre Senyor, y apuntant ja un mudor per tot lo cos, aprés me aparegué que resplandia y rellentaba per tota la figura.”
17 Ibid., 216: “que era la hora que Cristo espirá, per veurer si la dita Figura faria altres senyals.”
18 Ibid., 214: “tenir ab major veneració y acato del que fins vui es tinguda; y per tots los Feels Cristians ser venerada y reverenciada”; “burlarse han los enemigos de la Santa Fé Católica, y confirmarse han en su damnable error.”
19 Ibid., 223: “y era Figura molt fosca, y tota plena de picaduras de moscas; y ara está blanca com si fos eixida de ma de Mestre y molt trasmudada del que ans apareixia.”
20 Gila Medina, Cabra, 58-59.
21 “Información y processo original hecho por el doctor don Miguel Sanctos de San Pedro Arcidiano del Alcor en la sancta yglesia de Palenda Inquisidor Apostolico de Aragon, con comision del señor Obispo de Palencia, sobre el milagro succedido a 8 de Junio, de 1602 en la villa de Medina de Rioseco en la iglesia de Sancta María en un sancto crucifixo que sudo con grande Admiracion del pueblo y la sentencia difinitiua en que se declara el milagro dado por el señor Obispo don Martin Axpe y Sierra.” MS, Archivo Municipal de Medina de Rioseco, legajo 5. Testimony of Hermano Seuastian de la Conçeçion de la orden de nuestra señora del carmen descaiços extramuros, frayle lego, fols. 269r–v, also fols. 81r–v: “el mismo rrostro e seueridad del y en la misma figura de que antes estaua… le pareçio que no hera el mismo que auia uisto en la yglesia ora y medio auia porque yua muy disfigurado y los cauellos de la uarua muy espeluçados y su precioso rrosttro mas leuantado.”
22 Ibid., fol. 115v, Licenciado Andres Ramos, racionero en la sancta iglesia de Palencia, Jury 18, 1602: “los testigos examinados en esta causa no han de ser admittidos por ser como son todos vezinos de la dicha villa de medina de rioseco y como apasionados an dicho sus dichos por engrandezer su pueblo pensando de enriquezer la hermitta donde esta la imaxen del dicho crucifixo con las limosnas y dadiuas que comunmente offrezen los fieles deuotos que la vesitaren.” However plausible and revealing, these were pro forma objections in what seems to have been a pro forma proceeding, and Ramos immediately dropped his objections after Merino responded.
23 Ibid., fols. 117v–118r, Hernando Merino, procurador en la audiencia episcopal, Jury 20, 1602:” avnque confieso que la fee esta confirmada en estos reynos, es tanta nuestra tiuieza en acudir a las cosas de el seruicio de dios y culto diuino que algunas veces son necessarios milagros y nuestro señor vemos que los obra cada dia para que aya mayor deuoçion y con fervor acudamos todos a venerar y respectar las sanctas ymagines y por estos medios suele nuestro señor atraer los pueblos pues en semejantes casos vemos concurrir a por fia a visitar semejantes ymagenes por quien nuestro señor obra sus milagros, no solo la gente toda de los lugares donde suçeden / 118r / sino de los demas comarcanos y de toda la tierra por donde se publica y dibulga la fama de el tal milagro y con semejantes casos y successos sobrenaturales aunque todas las ymagenes por lo que representan se an de tener estimar y reuerenciar con mucho respecto, pero particularmente por las que nuestro señor semejantes milagros obra se tienen y respectan con mucho mas deuoçion, y en las capillas donde se tienen se hazen muchos sacrifiçios se diçen misas y sermones y se hazen oraçiones convocame y juntanse mui de ordinario los pueblos en tales yglesias y casas de oraçion, danse limosnas y hazense otras obras pias y sanctas con que nuestro señor es alauado y seruido.”
24 Ibid., fols. 248r–v, Bishop Martín de Axpe y Sierra: “el sudor y gotas de agua que… se vieron clara y patentemente por todo el cuerpo del dicho sancto cruciffixo y limpiandolo los saçerdotes con vnos corporales se vmedeçian y bolbian luego a rebenir y naçer alli mismo otras gotas de agua y que aunque menearon y mudaron el sancto cruçifijo, no se cayan las dichas gotas de agua y sudor, que se beian pendientes en el, y ansimismo verse el rostro del dicho cristo como afligido congoxado y demudado con admiraçion y espanto de todos los que lo vieron y differente de lo que antes deste casso se vio y despues se a visto su rostro. El dicho casso deberse tener por milagro que nuestro señor jhesucristo fue seruido de hazer y obrar en su sancta ymagen y figura para bien de los fieles cristianos…. todos fieles cristianos de nuestro obispado que de aqui en adelante lo beneran y tengan por tal milagro, y que se escriba y ponga en vna tabla en parte y lugar que este de manifiesto para que el pueblo se exorta a buen viuir y a seruir y agradar en todas sus acçiones a nuestro buen dios y señor y a mayor culto y beneraçion de su sancta ymagen.”
25 For instance, Spaniards could read of a crucifix in a village in Sardinia, Galtelli, that started sweating and bleeding on the days leading up to its feast on May 3, 1612. The face allegedly looked very tortured, and when curtain was drawn back so people could sing it a Miserere, many drops of blood fell, and “the church was filled with lamenting, copious tears were wept, all fearful of some chastisement well deserved because of sins and offenses to his Divine Majesty” (se llenò la Iglesia de llanto, y se derramaron copiosas lagrimas, temiendose todos de algun castigo, bien merecido por los pecados, y ofensas hechas á su Diuina Magestad). In the subsequent investigation, people said that the crucifix had been noticed in the past to change expressions, whether happy, favorable, sad, afflicted, or angry, and at times the very fabric of the image seemed to be transformed. ’Some priests testify that sometimes they have found one of the thighs soft and tractable, as if it were real flesh and bones, causing in them and those present great wonder,” Devocion y milagros. For the investigation of the sweating/ weeping of an image of the Virgin of Copacabana in Lima, 1591, see Amino, “Las lágrimas.” Christoval delos Santos, Tesoro del Cielo, 1: 138–39, mentions the sweating of a crucifix in 1621 in Minas de Ixmiquilpan, Mexico. The first published news of this sweating in Spain came in 1649. See Taylor, “Two Shrines” and Rubial García, “Imágenes y ermitaños,” 230–35. For Goa, in 1636, Diego de Santa Ana, Milagroso portento. For Győr, Mitchell, “Fiction,” and the pious version in Jordánszky, Magyar Országban, 56–57.
26 Relacion de algunos, 4: “sudò hazia la parte derecha, debaxo del braço, por espacio de 4. horas, y el sudor era un licor extraordinario, que ni bien era agua (aunque lo parecia en el color) ni bien azeyte, ni otro licor que coriesse, sino que se yua hinchando como vnas gotas gruessas, y si lo enxugauan, luego boluia a manar el mismo licor, y se empaparon dos lienços.”
27 Relacion segunda de algunos, 2: “Que milagros puede hazer vna tabla? y arrodillandose delante de vn gran tablon, que auia muchos dias que estaua arrimado a la pared, y no se podia mouer facilmente: díxo en menosprecio de la imagen del Santo. Tabla haz milagros: Al punto se le cayò la tabla en la cabeça, y dandole vn gran golpe, le descalabrò muy bien, y la herida del cuerpo fue la salud de su alma, que este castigo a esso endereçaron Dios y san Ignacio: si bien no teniendose el blasfemo por seguro de la Inquisicion, se huyò de Calatayud, donde personas abonadas son testigos que estan hoy en Madrid.”
28 Andrade, Veneración, 348–66.
29 Ibid., 224–26.
30 Cunill i Fontfreda, El Sant Crist, 40–67, at 52: “que lo Christo del Hospital avia plorat sanch y aygua… y que a nit… avia sentit tocar la campana del hospital dos vegades.”
31 Antón Díaz, age fifty-four, April 9, 1640, fols. 125v–28r, in “Informacion fecha en virtud de comision de los Señores del Consejo de Su Alteza el Señor Cardenal Ynfante, en razon del Sudor de diez y siete dias que hizo en este villa del Bonillo el SANTO CRISTO DE LOS MILAGROS, el año de 1640 el dia quatro del mes de marzo de dicho año = Y asimismo el Milagro que a 21 de Abril de dicho año ejecuto con Christival Chilleron haviendole cogido los novillos.” This is a notarized copy in the Libro de Cofradía made February 19, 1794, from the copy made May 23, 1641, of the document in Toledo. I saw it in the parish archive.
32 The Augustinian friar was Miguel Garcés de la Cañada. Ldo. Juan Baptista Davia, age about seventy, April 14, 1640, ibid., fol. 140v: “la sudor bullia como la de un huebo que ponen asar en la lumbre,” reporting what Garcés told him. This image was used by several observers, including Díaz himself.
33 Davia, April 14, 1640, ibid., fol. 140r: “como ha sucedido en otras ocasiones muchas.”
34 Pedro Morcillo, age sixty-four, April 18, 1640, ibid., fol. 156v: “como cuando un hombre viene caluroso y cansado.”
35 Diego Ortiz, infantry captain, regidor, familiar of the Holy Office, age forty-two, May 6, 1640, ibid., fol. 175r: “como una lentejuela de plata, que resplandecía.”
36 Luis Calvache Pinero, doctor, age seventy, April 15, 1640, ibid., fol. 150r: “that odor was not natural, for it was not water of orange blossom, violets, carnations, angels, amber, musk, civet, calamite storax, lozenges, nor anything that this witness knows about” (y que aquel olor no era de cosa natural, porque ni era de agua de Azar, ni de Violetas, ni de Claveles, ni de Angeles, ni de Ambar, ni de Amizcle, ni de Algalia, ni de Estoraque calamita, ni de pastillas, y por fin dixo, que ni de otra cosa que este testigo alcanza). One witness (fol. 158v) said it was like jasmine flower, but more delicate (suave).
37 Christoval Chilleron, labrador, age forty-four, April 15, 1640, ibid., fols. 148v-149r.
38 Juan de la Plaza, painter, age twenty-seven, April 22, 1640, ibid., fol. 178v: “es cosa sobrenatural y milagrosa, y este testigo lo tiene por tal, y la pintura de ella porque es de las mas primas y superiores, que ha visto su vida, tanto que provoca a rreberencia, y debocion grande aquiel [sic] lo vè, y en todas las ocasiones que este testigo le ha visto se le han escarmenado los cavellos, y dado temor, porque la Caveza es de la mayor primor y vivez [sic], que ay en el arte de pintura.”
39 For sweating, in 1641, of a Veronica in Baños de la Encina (Jaén) and a painting of the Cristo de Cabra in Linares (Jaén) during Jesuit missions, see “Copia de una carta, que el Padre Marcos de Verrio aviendo vuelto de una larga mission escrivio desde Jaen a un religioso amigo residente en Madrid, de 24 de De. de 1641,” BRAH 9.336 folios 200rv, and “Traslado de una relacion que se escribio desde Baños al Señor Cardenal Obispo de Jaen por el doctor Melchor de Blanca Prior de aquella iglesia y el Padre Pedro de Fontiberos del sudor extraordinario de la santa Beronica en la Villa de Baños estando en mission los padres Marcos de Verrio y dicho Padre Fontiberos sacada puntiualmente de la jurídica que para su eminencia se hiço con mas de cien testigos,” ibid., 343r–345v. I am grateful to Katrina Olds for this reference and transcription.
40 Most of what we know of the events comes from a book about it, published fifty years later by a Trinitarian who was a native son, which includes the final judgment and verbatim excerpts from the hearing, see Christoval de los Santos, Tesoro del Cielo.
41 Ibid., 1: 38–39. The main Veronica shrines in Spain were in Jaén and Alicante; two other Veronica images that became active were in Honrubia (Cuenca) sometime in the 1630s (to the beata Ana García Rubio and others, see Panes, Chronica, 430–36) and in Sacedón (Guadalajara), in 1689, where an investigation was held after a Veronica was discovered on a wall and worked miracles; see Corona, Historia de la maravillosa aparición.
42 Christ oval de los Santos, Tesoro del Cielo, 1: 42, the Dominican Miguel Conde: “y que dicho Rostro de nuestro Señor Jesu-Christo estava encendido, y encarnado, como de vna persona que está muy fatigada, y cansada, y que le pareciò, que algunas vezes hazia mudanças el Rostro, como impelido de alguna congoja Interior, y los ojos sumamente tristes, los labios belfos.” See also in De Gayangos, Cartas de Jesuítas, a letter dated April 26, 1644, to Seville, quoting an April 24 letter from the rector of Villarejo de Fuentes to Madrid, Memorial Histórico Español 17, 470–71.
43 Christoval de los Santos, Tesoro del Cielo, 1: 22–23.
44 Public penance that provoked public weeping served as demonstrations to God that the town as a collective being was repentant, see Christian, “Provoked Religious Weeping.”
45 Christoval de los Santos, Tesoro del Cielo, 2: 122: “lo tenían por milagro, y sin sospecha de causa natural, que en ello interviniesse, segun lo que la fragilidad, y juizio humano puede alcançar à entender, y juzgar. Y por este razon, ser digno de ponerse desde luego en mas veneracion de la que aora està en dicho cuadro.” This outcome resembled the outcome of a beatification process, which also allowed a greater degree of veneration of a person considered blessed.
46 Sebastian Gonzalez, Madrid, to Rafael Peyreira, Seville, in De Gayangos, Cartas de Jesuitas, MHE 18, 299, letter May 15, 1646, “Dios está muy enojado”; “A un padre de este Colegio dijo la condesa de Puñoenrostro, que en un pueblo suyo que se llama Alcobendas habia allí sudado un Cristo, y que habiéndole limpiado algunas veces el sudor el cura, habia de nuevo vuelto á sudar. ¡Quiera Dios mejorar estos presagios!”
47 The following account is based on “Infformacion de la milagrossa Imagen del Sto. Christo de la Columna cuya sta efigie esta en esta Iglessia Parrochial de señor san Pedro de esta Villa de Alcouendas año de mili y seiscientos y quarenta y seis,” in the parish archive of San Pedro Apostol, 1646. It consists of 98 folios. There is also another, 243-page transcript, made in 1794, and a record book of the alms to the image with entries for 1646, and the period 1651 to 1709.
48 “Infformacion,” fols. 54v, 57r, Francisco de Moscoso (“ex-alcalde de los nobles”): “como suele secederze.”
49 Ibid., fols. 11v, 33v, 36v, 40r.
50 Ibid., fols. 19r, 26v, 54v, and passim: “temor,” “ternura,” “admiracion,” “contento,” “pura devocion” and “reuerençia.”
51 Several of the male witnesses were town notables (“those paid attention to“), and four were seasonal workers, including two from a town next to Osa de la Vega; the age of the male witnesses ranged from twenty-two to sixty-seven, of the women, from twenty-two to fifty.
52 Ibid., fol. 66v: “en tiempos tan calamitosos.”
53 Díaz i Carbonell, El Sant Crist, 228: “á cercar algun home perque vehes, pera que a nosaltres nons he creurian.”
54 Christian, Religiosidad local, 219–49. As Richard Trexler has pointed out (in “Habiller et déshabiller“), Spain’s Christ images were largely undressed, and most of them did not have detachable clothing. In contrast, Marian images were heavily dressed (Cea Gutiérrez, Religiosidad popular; Albert-Llorca, Vierges miraculeuses) and humors or transformation had to be concentrated on the face or hands.
55 In 1520, in Cocentaina; see text of the original acts by Luis Juan de Alzamora and the retrospective testimony of six witnesses on December 9, 1605, in Arques Jover, Breve Historia, 53–95. For 1525 Nuévalos, Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid (hereafter AHN), Códice 829B Colegiata del Sto. Sepulcro de Calatayud, Apeo del archivo, Cajon de las escrituras de la encomienda de Nuebalos no. 4 (fol. 78r) and no. 30 (fol. 89v). For Tobed, see documents in Historia del antiguo, 60–68, and testimony boards in the church; AHN Ordenes Militares Sto Sepulcro Sellos Caja 34, no. 11, February 28, 1400, Martin I of Aragon gives image painted by Saint Luke to Tobed church; and AHN Códice 829B (see above), Cajon de privilegios reales (fol. 25r), for donation of painting; and no. 68 (fol. 242v) for sweat of images. On this kind of image, see Crispí i Cantón, “La verònica,” 1996.
56 Pulido Serrano, Injurias a Cristo, 143–47.
57 For 1640 Llers, see Camós, Jardín de María, 166-68, and Pellicer, Avisos, August 7, 1640. For Riudarenes, see Elliot, Revolt of the Catalans, 426, see also 420, 427, 444–45; and for Olot, see Camós, Jardín de María, 151–53, citing notarial act.
58 In 1675, a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary sweating, and in 1677, exacerbated by famine and plague, images of Mary, Christ, Saint Anthony of Padua, and Saint Joseph sweating in monasteries and private houses. Antonio de Santa María, Hispania Triunfante, chap. 54, 520–22, cited in Christoval de los Santos, Tesoro del Cielo, 163-65.
59 Cardinal Luis Antonio de Belluga’s Carta pastoral of August 18, 1706, printed in Murcia, Granada, Pamplona, Seville, and Naples, the Gazeta de Murcia, August 24, 1706, 87-88, and Belluga’s published correspondence described a plaster bust of the Sorrowful Mother in a house near Murcia whose weeping on August 8-9, 1706, he witnessed, as had been leading troops in battle a short distance away. Belluga had testimony taken from twenty-four witnesses on August 11 and related the weeping to profanations by British troops in Alicante.
60 The battles were at Brihuega and Villaviciosa. Various relaciones, including BNM VE 708–65, 818–106, BNM V 56–40, 121–26; Arbiol, Sudor milagroso, by which he gives the testimony; and Fray Martín Rosillo (the Franciscan from Molina de Aragón who made the enquiry), Del admirable sudor de una imagen de San Francisco en tiempo de guerra (Zaragoza, 1712), which I have not seen, cited in Sanz y Díaz, “Traíd y el cuadro,” Diario de Cuenca, Aug. 31, 1982, 9.
61 Relacion verdadera, 1: “especialmente se deve poner cuydado en sudores de Imagenes; pues se han experimentado muchos de vano artificio, causados, ù de la ciega aficion que tienen à la Imagen por darle mas culto, ù de la precipitada codicia de Santeros, y Sacristanes, que no quieren comer pan de su sudor, como Adan, sino sustentarse à costa de el sudor de la Imagen.”
62 See Vidal, “Miracles, Science, and Testimony,” and its excellent bibliography.
63 As the seventeenth century progressed, brotherhoods in Seville tended to hire their flagellants; see Sánchez Herrero, La Semana Santa, 135, 145, 167–69. Flagellation was forbidden altogether in the Real Cédula [Royal edict] of February 20, 1777.
64 In Ávila, in 1594, the alabaster statue held to be Saint Segundo had a liquid like sweat on its face about the time the image was to be taken from the brotherhood chapel and placed in the cathedral. Some said the sweat appeared because the saint did not want to be moved, others, because the saint was glad to be moved. Still others said the sweat was liquid left over from when the face was washed, which picked up the light from candles on the altar. The diocesan official sent by the bishop to look into the matter decided “there was nothing of substance.” Antonio Cianca, Historia de la vida, invención, milagros y traslación de San Segundo (Madrid: Luys Sanchez, 1595), facsimile ed., 2 vols. (Ávila: Institución Gran Duque de Alba, 1993), 2: 23r–23v, cited in Cátedra, Un santo para una ciudad, 61–62: “no auía cosa de sustancia.”
65 Christian, “Francisco Martínez,” 103: “Y que le dixo que tan cierto seria como lo era que un Santo Christo que llebaba al pecho estaba sudando sangre. Con lo que le commobio y a no arrimarse a la pared del cortijo ubiera caido.”
66 Ibid, 104–105, “metia el santo christo en agua, o se le hechaba, y aciendose sangre en un dedo se la pegaba y de esta calidad lo mostraba a dichos compañeros dandoles a entender sudaba sangre y agua.”
67 Ibid, 107, “tomar el oficio de olgazán, y comer e beuer alegremente”; “poco inclinado al trauajo, y querer sin el, comer, y pasar con conveniencia la vida.”
68 Feijóo, Teatro Crítico, 3: sixth discourse, “Milagros Supuestos”: “¡Quántos llantos, ò sudores mysteriosos de sagradas estatuas corrieron en varios Paises que no tuvieron mas existencia que las que les dio un engañoso viso, ò una imaginacion fanática! En los primeros años de este siglo se proclamó tanto el sudor de un Crucifixo, no como término, sino como symptoma de la enfermedad que entonces padecia España, que pasó à los Reynos estraños la noticia como muy verdadera, siendo fabulosa.”
69 Montuno Morente, Nuestra Señora de la Capilla, 394.
70 Instrumentos auténticos.
71 See the excellent study of Cattaneo, Gli Occhi di Maria.
72 Emérita Lara and Esperanza Aparicio Buendía, interview by author, October 24, 1976, El Bonillo, tape recording, about vision in jail in Hellín.
73 In Miguelturra (Ciudad Real). Other images with certified activations have been eclipsed by competing devotions who worked their own miracles. If the Christ at the Column upstaged Our Lady of the Peace in the drought of 1646, in 1677, Our Lady of the Peace regained her preeminence by multiplying the wine in an Alcobendas house, and today it is her feast, not that of the Christ or its sweating, that is celebrated.
74 Aulnoy, Travels into Spain, 153.
75 Portús, “Holy Depicting the Holy.”
76 I concur with Vauchez, “Introduction,” 10: “N’importe quelle image, religieuse ou non, peut en effet être investie d’un pouvoir inhérent qui, à un certain moment, se révèle au grand jour à l’occasion d’une vision, d’une animation ou de miracles.”
77 Corteguera, “Talking Images.”
78 Nalle, “Private Devotion, Personal Space”; Kasl, “Delightful Adornments”; and for Mexico, Rubial, Profetisas y solitarios, 124–35.
79 For the Christ of the Column of Monlora in the illustrations, Hebrera y Emir, Descripción, and Historia de Monlora.
80 Christian and Krasznai, “Christ of Limpias and the Passion of Hungary.”
81 See Christian, Moving Crucifixes; in Navarra, the Christs of Piedramillera (starting May 11, 1920), Berbinzana (starting May 22, 1920 [Archivo Diocesano de Pamplona, Berbinzana, 1920 no. 9. I thank Santiago Martínez Magdalena for this reference]) and Mañeru (by May 28, 1920).
82 To this day many of the people of the towns of Sant Quirze de Besora and Montesquiu (Barcelona) believe that one of the textile mills nearby had an articulated crucifix in an adjacent chapel, which, when workers asked the owner for an increase in salary, would be made to shake its head or nod (personal conversations, Montesquiu 2009, Anglada, Història del poble de Montesquiu, 120–28).
83 The Templemore events have not been seriously studied. I have consulted, among other newspapers, the Tipperary Star, the Irish Independent, the Nenagh Guardian, the Anglo-Celt, and the Meath Chronicle.
84 Christian, Visionaries, 95, 155, 159, 200, 208, 445.
85 As far as I know, there has been no scholarly work on her sect, which was periodically, and notoriously, in the news. See Gilles Lameire, La Vierge en pleurs.
86 There is an abundant bibliography: apologetic, like Bombenger, Le Sacré-Coeur de Mirebeau-en-Poitou and Association, Témoignages, and Grabinski, Wunder, 140–200; estoteric, like Birven, Abbe Vachère, who believed Vachère was a magician; and enquiring, like Feilding, “The Case of Abbé Vachère,” but no critical study.
87 See Garlaschelli, “Sangue, sudore e lacrime.”
88 Badame, La Virgen de las Lágrimas.
89 Interview with the parish priest, Foz, Aug 12, 1977.
90 Ofensiva (Cuenca) articles by Bort Carbó Oct. 11 to Nov. 10, 1959, Ya Nov. 5 and 7, 1959; Querol in Sábado Gráfico Oct. 24, 1959, and Menéndez-Chacón in Blanco y Negro, Oct. 24, 1958. The weeping was filmed by Agustín Ontalvo Carreño. The lithograph wept daily from Sept 18 to Oct. 9, especially on Fridays, then Nov.4, Nov. 6, Nov. 7 and possibly thereafter. Rvdo. Emilio Hortelano, interview, July 21, 1977.
91 I talked to many of the people involved and three members of the commission in July 1977. They and much of Spain’s clergy were influenced by Carlos María Staehlin’s critical book, Apariciones.
92 For the skeptical clergy, see Lévêque, Mon curé chez les visionnaires, 18.
93 The X-ray, published in Paris Match, Dec. 25, 1954, 64–67, showed the image was fashioned over what was originally a crucifix, and this shadow Christ below Saint Anne was considered a miraculous sign.
94 For example, Pichon, “Miracle ou supercherie?” See also Thomassin, “Le faux miracle.”
95 Salvadé and Bronté, “Le faux miracle,” France-Dimanche, Feb. 2 to March 2, 1961, all on page 8. See also Arnal, Mystères et Merveilles, 136–72, using, somewhat imaginatively, police records.
96 Eparvier and Hérissée, Le Dosssier des miracles, 195.
97 Arnal, Mystères et Merveilles, 169–70.
98 Garlaschelli, “Sangue, sudore e lacrime,” Warner, “Blood and Tears.” For apologetic accounts of the many such events, see the works of Piero Mantero, including his Foto “Soprannaturali” and other publications of Edizioni Segno, Udine, along with the magazine Segno.
99 Vazquez and Marquardt, “Globalizing the Rainbow Madonna.”
100 Wojcik, “Polaroids from Heaven,” and “Spirits, Apparitions and Traditions”; Bitel and Gainer, “Looking the Wrong Way.” At Ezquioga (1931–1934) photographs and films came to be critical evidence for and against the visions. Eventually, the bishop demanded the surrender of all photos of the seers, a testimony to the images’ effectiveness. Christian, Visionaries, 112, 151, 274–75, Christian, “L’Œil de l’esprit.”
101 See the works of the chemist Garlaschelli http://www.luigigarlaschelli.it/Altrepubblicazioni.
102 See Gross, The Dream of the Moving Image.
From Divine Presence in Spain and Western Europe 1500-1960, by William A. Christian (Central European University Press, 2012), 45-96