Jesus painting said to wink and shed tears in Bethlehem
November 29, 1996
Web posted at: 6:00 p.m. EST (2300 GMT)
BETHLEHEM, Israel (CNN) -- To some, it's a miracle. To
others, it's a question of perspective. But Greek Orthodox
leaders here have no doubt that a 12th century painting of
Jesus has begun to weep.
The picture on the column in the Church of Nativity is right
over the grotto where tradition holds Jesus was born.
"This is a miracle and a sign that Jesus sent us to
strengthen our belief," said Father Anastasios, Bethlehem
representative of Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Archbishop
Greek Cypriot pilgrims in the church Thursday fell to their
knees and wept before the painting after saying Jesus had
winked at them.
But disbelievers dismissed the winking Jesus as an optical
trick. They said one of Christ's eyes was brighter than the
other, creating an illusion that the dark eye opened and
Father Anastasios dismissed skeptics' belief that the weeping
Jesus was a ploy to bring pilgrims and holiday cheer to
Bethlehem this Christmas, its second under Palestinian rule.
Bethlehem is located in the West Bank region, now under the
authority of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
"I don't know what this means for tourism, this is a
religious matter," Father Anastasios insisted, saying, "I saw
him closing and opening his eyes."
Local savants said one needs to peer intently at the picture
for 20 minutes until the miracle is revealed.
Pilgrims are doing just that.
"I don't believe in miracles," said one Danish pilgrim. "But
I can believe in Jesus Christ and he can do miraculous
Sadika Hamida, a Moslem cleaner in the Church, said she was
the first to see Jesus weep.
"They were real tears, red tears," Hamida said. "It was
beautiful, so beautiful."
Some believers say the tears could be a sign of Jesus'
frustration with the modern world.
Along with the belief in the miracle, there is much
"If you look at anything long enough it will do whatever you
want to," one tourist said.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and
Reuters contributed to this report.
Related site: Note: Page will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.