ROME, MAR. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A judge found no evidence of deceit or trickery involved with a statue of the Blessed Virgin that witnesses, including a bishop, say weeps blood.
Fabio Gregori, a worker in Civitavecchia, a city near Rome, had declared publicly that the statue wept blood in February 1995. The statue had been brought to his house by Spanish priest Pablo Martin from Medjugorje.
The case received wide media coverage and brought thousands of visitors to the garden of Gregori's home, where the statue was first placed, and later to the nearby church where it was later taken.
A consumer-protection group, Codacons, along with another group, Anti-Plagiarism Telephone, denounced Gregori before Judge Carmine Castaldo of Civitavecchia. Gregori, an electrician, was accused of association to commit offense, fraud, and abuse of people's credulity. The judge on Monday ruled that there was no trickery involved in the case.
Bishop Girolamo Grillo of Civitavecchia said: "Six years ago, I got angry because I felt the magistrate was interfering unduly in ecclesiastical questions. However, they haven't found anything, and they have had to close the case. It is further confirmation, offered by third parties who are above suspicion, that following the phenomenon of the tears, there was no deceit. Today I say: Let's hope that the world will at least believe the court."
Bishop Grillo admitted he was initially skeptical when he first heard Gregori's story.
"One week after the announcement of the first weeping, I told the parish priest to get a hammer and destroy the little statue," the bishop said. "He hid it, entrusting it to Mr. Gregori's brother. Then I took custody of it to clarify the case, and the statue wept while I held it in my hands."
Bishop Grillo reports that an average of 3,500 pilgrims a week visit the church that houses the statue. Five Masses are celebrated in the church on Saturdays, and seven on Sundays.
The accused was also pleased. "I am happy that the case has been closed, but in conscience I must say that I was always absolutely at peace," Fabio Gregori stressed. "I was prepared to face an eventual sentence so long as I could defend the truth to the end."
The electrician remembers the many searches to which his home was subjected. However, "I have never felt this judicial matter as a weight," he said. "My life as a husband and father of a family has not changed; my Christian being has changed profoundly."
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is analyzing the case of the weeping statue. At Bishop Grillo's request, the Vatican congregation is allowing faithful to visit the statue.