Many people have scientific explanations for icons that appear to have liquid coming right through the paintings or oil streaming on paintings.
Many people have scientific explanations for icons that appear to have liquid coming right through the paintings or oil streaming on paintings, something to do with heat and oil. Since I am not an expert in science, I can’t enlighten you from this perspective. However, as a Greek Orthodox Christian Educator living in the Holy Land for the last five years, I want to share with you an eye witness incident that occurred at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Great Friday evening during the Greek Orthodox Services at the tomb of Christ.
It was first brought to my attention that an Icon of Christ was bleeding as I was walking in a procession inside the Holy Sepulchre Church at about
1:00 am. The procession stops at different spots in the Church to signify where Jesus was flogged, where he was crowned with thorns, where he was nailed to the cross, where His body had laid before being placed in the tomb where he was buried. Many people were gathered at one particular tiny chapel that is dedicated to the Mocking of Christ, which is maintained by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. They were overcrowded, pushing, shoving and starring at the Icon of Christ depicting the Mocking of Christ during his trial.
The chapel had three large wall icons and this particular one was the middle icon at the center of the chapel. It depicts Christ seating on a stool with his hands tied and six individuals that appear to be soldiers are pocking and hitting him with thin long sticks.
Initially, I ignored this crowd to my left and continued in the procession until I overheard an elderly lady tell one of the many bishops in Greek, “The Icon of our Lord is pouring blood.” Being a person of such little faith I did not rush to stare at the icon myself. The bishop reassured this lady next to me that they would investigate the icon. As I found my husband David in the crowd I did mention to him the reason that particular chapel we just passed up was overcrowded due to an icon with blood. He ignored me as usual.
After an hour of prayers in Greek, Russian and Arabic, in front of the tomb of Christ, the holiest place on earth for Christians with the Coptic Orthodox chanting in the back of the tomb in another language, I had a hard time following my prayer book. The only thought that kept going through my mind is if Christians serve the same Lord why should we have thirteen different denominations? We need unity badly and better coordination during these services, definitely not microphones. All this simultaneous chanting is disturbing for a foreigner like me. I’m sure God was listening to both groups but I could not follow the Greek or the Coptic lamentations. The Greek Consul, however, Mr. Petros Panagotopoulos never has such problems because he can always stand right in front of the tomb.
Confused and baffled at this four-hour service, I turned around looked at my husband who said: “You should go see the icon, it’s bleeding.” At this point, I quickly ran back to the chapel and since Jerusalem is empty from pilgrims, it was possible to walk very fast because usually its so crowded you can’t budge. It was 2:30 am when I starred at the oil painting of the Icon of Christ very high in the middle of the small chapel. I saw four splashes or smears of a red liquid on Christ’s right leg and five red smears or spots on the left leg. While the crowd at the chapel was chanting in Russian, a young tall man in front of this icon would take items from people and wipe the liquid off from the icon. Items given to this young man were candles, small icons, cotton balls, scarves, crosses, tissues, anything that people happen to have in their possession at this moment to receive this oil and see before their very eyes that it was from Christ’s Icon.
As I marveled at this site, I gave this thin young man my black cotton scarf and he jumped up to reach and wiped the icon. For as much oil that was wiped from the icon, more oil would appear instantly before our eyes. I smelled my scarf and it had a neutral smell, no special smell and the oil was moist and seeped into the material. At 2:40 am, I witnessed a very thin strip of oil in the color red appear on the inside of the right leg of Christ below the knee on this very same icon. The gentleman next to me who later told me his name is Costa Kourtalaris, a tour guide from Cyprus, pocked me on my arm and said in Greek: Did you see that blood, it’s new, it was not there ten minutes ago.” And, I was indeed amazed to see this new red liquid before my very eyes because it was so unbelievable and it was not there when I initially began to look at the icon. I had specifically counted the red spots because I was interested in telling my children about them and I wanted to be technically accurate at how many splashes I saw. My twelve-year-old usually asks me technically questions as such. Furthermore, what really amazed me more was that this new strip of oil that appeared in front of my eyes continued to get longer and stream down the leg of Christ before my very eyes. It was as fat as the thinnest spaghetti string. By 3:00 am, the oil strip that began below the knee had reached the ankle. Ten minutes later before I left the Holy Sepulchre, the stream of oil got longer and had reached the toe of Christ on this icon.
I asked this gentleman from Cypress how long he has been coming to the Holy Land and if he had ever seen such streaks of oil on this icon before. He said he has come to the Holy Land every year for the last twenty-five years and has never seen these spots before on this particular icon. As I asked him, do you think this is a miracle? I overheard Bishop Timothy from the Greek Patriarchate tell the young man wiping the icon to stop taking the oil off of the icon and to leave the icon alone for an investigation of this incident. I went home needing no one to research it for me because I saw Christ’s Icon bleeding with my own eyes and new strips of blood appearing and streaming down Christ’s leg as I starred at it for an hour trying to discern what was happening before me. I do not deserve to be a witness to the Glory of God but I feel it is a sacred duty to tell others so that humanity can give Glory to God. I remembered the words of Christ to the Apostles that I heard during the Epistle at the Easter service: “..and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth.” (Acts of the Apostles 1:1-8)
As I sat in my living room each evening this week overlooking the beautiful lights of Jerusalem because I live high on a mountain in the middle of Biblical Judea and Samaria and since I had been in Jerusalem on Great Friday, these words took a special meaning for me. Even after hearing the Epistle, I did not rush to write my personal account. I called Bishop Timothy to confirm the red spots on the icon. He said he had seen the spots himself and the Divine Grace appears to those who believe. However, he could not make an official announcement that this was a miraculous icon, although he has never seen these red splashes before during his many years of praying in the Holy Sepulchre. My friend, Sister Maria Stephanopoulos said this is the Holy Land and such miraculous incidents happen all the time. Do you believe in Miracles?