As Christmas approaches, devout believers are being drawn to a church in Sacramento, Calif., where a statue of the Virgin Mary appears to be crying blood. NBC News correspondent James Hattori reports.
We've all seen or heard about these kinds of things before. Something appears to be dripping from the left eye of a statue of the Virgin Mary outside the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church in Sacramento, Calif. It's either a pretty convincing hoax, some explainable physical phenomenon or, as some here believe, a miracle.
They're coming by the hundreds to see the weeping Mary. Crowds of believers with cameras, flowers and candles, many praying for blessings, like Bao and Amber Tran, who brought their new son."The baby is just a week old. We thought we would come out and pray to Mary and … have Mary bless the baby too," says Amber.
Others are visibly shaken by the image — considered by many a sign that something bad will happen. "I believe," says Noc Lee.
A priest first noticed staining on the statue about a week ago. Church members say it streamed all the way down to the foundation. They say most of it was smudged off by souvenir hunters and washed-away by recent rains.
Neighbor Carmen Moreno, says, "And today I came and she is crying again. I don’t know what to say about that."
There have been thousands of similar religious sightings, from the one found in a Chicago railway underpass to an image of Mary on a piece of toast auctioned on eBay.
"Our experience shows that most of these have a natural explanation. But in some cases there's fraud," says Ole Anthony or the Trinity Foundation.
And while some say people shouldn't need bleeding statues to validate their beliefs, others say it can't hurt.
"I don't know. It could be a miracle. But it's a miracle just seeing people praying, you know? The faith of the people is something else," says Margaret Herbert, a former diocese teacher.
Everyone sees, perhaps, what they want to see. As for local church officials, they could not be reached for comment. But we've been told the pastor of the church has taken a sample of the supposed blood for testing.