The Case of the Mysterious Weeping Icon

Here’s a mystery, from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper:

Was a Jesus painting at Holladay’s Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church mysteriously crying or was there a more natural explanation for the moisture around the Savior’s eyes?

Spoiler alert! There is a natural explanation. In fact, there is always a natural explanation for these miracles. Given that there were oil lamps mounted above the painting, the obvious explanation was that a little oil had spilled on the painting while the lamps were being refilled. So how did it come to be seen as a miracle?

It all began a couple of years ago when someone noticed oil drops on the icon of Christ the Archpriest. So how did the oil get there? A Prophet Elias worker responsible for filling oil lamps above the church’s sacred paintings later signed a statement saying that he “did not spill any oil on that miraculous icon. … This is truly a miracle from God.”

The parish priest Michael Kouremetis also insisted that it was a miracle and that those who doubted were “antagonists of the church” who had “black souls”.

And naturally there was the inevitable sequel in which “several parishioners have reported healings associated with the painting.” What more proof does one need of a miracle?

But there are always skeptics, even among the flock, and not all were convinced, with one parishioner saying, “The icon in question doesn’t have enough oil to put on a postage stamp. There are cotton balls at the bottom of this icon to catch any of the ‘exuding’ oil. Guess what? As of today they are bone dry.”

And so it ends, as it always ends.

[T]he Prophet Elias worker now says Kouremetis “directed [him] not to discuss the accidental oil spill.” He had signed the earlier statement, he told the parish council president, “under pressure and fear.”

So it looks like Sherlock Holmes is not needed to solve this mystery.

But it did remind me of this 2010 episode from Larry David’s show Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Needless to say, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue was pissed about the show. (Sorry! But I think I warned readers that I was a connoisseur of bad puns.)


  1. hypatiasdaughter says

    The parish priest Michael Kouremetis also insisted that it was a miracle and that those who doubted were “antagonists of the church” who had “black souls”.

    Not very biblical. Jesus had a comment about false prophets and evil fruits.

    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15

    If one doesn’t inquire about the veracity of the “fruits”, never questions if they are true or false, good or evil, how will one separate the true prophets from the false?

  2. Doug Little says

    I’ll go one better, Why not move around the stars so that they spell out something meaningful to it’s existence from our view point here on earth. Shit should be a breeze for an all powerful deity.

  3. says

    If people can’t bloody realize that a drop of fluid spilling when it gets poured into another container is most obviously how the oil drop got there when any three year old can tell what happened, I wonder how they can go through a day without getting run over by a bus, let alone evaluate logical conundrums.

    I mean, they don’t even know which way is up!

  4. jamessweet says

    But He’s already done that: In the southern hemisphere, you have the Southern Cross constellation. I mean, seriously, what are the odds that four stars would arrange themselves in a roughly cross-like shape?!? It’s gotta be like at least 1 in 5.

  5. Scott says

    Here’s an idea: let’s assume the “tears” are real. Collect them and analyze the DNA therein, and map Jesus’s genome! After that, we can clone Him! Now there’s a second coming!

    Of course, analyzing the goo on the icon might disprove the whole thing…

  6. F says

    Christ the Archpriest


    (Sorry! But I think I warned readers that I was a connoisseur of bad puns.)

    I don’t suppose you had looked into a career in geology at some point, had you? 😉

  7. says

    Whaaaa? As if three lines are going together exactly right and form 3 perfect apex’s by chance. The odds of that happening by chance are exactly 47,275,538,326,634.1415927:1! Right smack in the exact middle of the firmament? Sure, right, happens all – l – l – l the time.

    Checkmate, atheist.

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