With the alleged mystic Catalina Rivas from Bolivia are an equal number of controversies and startling supernatural claims.
There is the stigmata, which have have discussed [see here].
There are the messages [see here].
And there are the images and statues, representations of Heaven, in her home and city -- right there nearby -- that have displayed allegedly unfathomable aspects, from the formation of a strange "glitter (known in Latino countries as escarchas) to a tearing, bleeding bust of Jesus and ditto for a statue of the Infant.
We make no judgment on the mystic herself, who some follow, some denounce. Caution is always in order. The same is true with miracles. It is with the bust of Jesus that the most incomprehensible alleged phenomena may have occurred.
This is an image that shed tears before cameras from a local television station in Cochabamba. Newsmen were able to actually record the formation of droplets.
"On 25th May 1995, Oswaldo Rioja, a reporter from Channel 4 Television and his camera assistant, were assigned to report on the story," says a rendition of events. "They did not believe the claims. At 5:00 pm on that day they set up their camera in front of the statue, and watched and waited.
"Within about forty-five minutes the statue began to shed what seemed to be tears from the eyes which turned to blood, and to then shed what seemed to be blood from locations on the head. They were convinced that what they saw and filmed was not the product of a trick or fraud."
A Commission of Inquiry, set up by the local Bishop, Bishop Rene Fernandez, declared the event authentic and has authorized veneration of the statue.
When the bust was then put through a CAT scan analysis, it was found to be solid plaster with one void of air but not the tiniest vessel or mechanism through which moisture could have been pumped and no interior moisture.
Translation: for all that anyone could find, it came from nowhere (although many would change "nowhere" to "Heaven," or at least a source that was preternatual).
The sample of a red substance that exuded from the bust was taken to Gentest Laboratories in the United States for testing, which identified it as blood s blood that contained human DNA. A second lab in Australia confirmed the finding.
Most astonishingly of all, according to a report by Ron Tesoriero, who was involved in the investigation, "The scab-like substance was transported in a test tube to Australia where I had it analyzed by another Australian forensic laboratory. In transit the particle seemed to have broken apart, and part of the sample was found to be blood. One part was found not to be blood, nor to be of human origin, and this surprised us.
"Subsequent examination of this particle by a forensic specialist, who knew nothing of the origin of the sample, concluded that the particle was 'the tip of a vicious thorn or spine from an arid region possibly from a date palm or hawthorn bush'" [our italics].
Legend has it that Christ's crown of thorns was made from such a hawthorn bush.
It is the word "preternatural" that can be relevant, for in common usage it means a paranormal force but one that could be psychic or "soulish": supernatural but not from Heaven, leaving the possibility of darker forces or at least ones that originate in the human psyche and somehow transfer to the exterior physical world.
There is also the simple framed print of Our Lady of Guadalupe that hangs in Catalina's hallway.
On March 25, 1999, stated a TV crewman, Michael Willesee, from Fox Television, "something truly inexplicable occurred. We witnessed and filmed a gathering of thousands of colored crystals on the image, bright and exquisite in their artistic formation. And no evidence of the hand of man. We continued to visit Catalina at her home and the artistic glitter on the picture of Mary continued to grow and change. On the third night we noticed part of the image illumined in the dark. We then bathed the image in a strong television light. The same area lit up to a phosphorus green. To us a mystery but to Catalina it was simple: A gift from Jesus and a message. This was the womb of Mary where He became man."
The crew also directly witnessed a statue of the Blessed Mother of Fatima exude oil, filming this too.
How to explain it? What purpose?
What says the Bible?
"So they took the colt to Jesus and, throwing their cloaks on its back, they lifted Jesus on to it. As he moved off, they spread their cloaks in the road, and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen. They cried out: 'Blessed is he who is coming as King in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens! Some Pharisees in the crowd said to Him 'Master, reprove your disciples,' but He answered, 'I tell you, if these keep silence, the stones will cry out.'"
Said a theologian: "I believe Jesus was prophesying that there would come a time when man would no longer proclaim God and the stones would cry out in proclamation. We are living in those times; the statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary weeping around the world are doing the job we should be doing, proclaiming God in the world, the reality of God, the supernatural."