Miracles and Healings are Associated with Images of Mary
This is a typical Spanish-style statue of Mary, the mother of God.
What is a Miracle?
Miraculous images of Mary, the Mother of God, exist throughout the world.
Occasionally, a picture or statue will "weep" or shed tears of blood, and this is observed by reliable witnesses. After a thorough investigation to rule out fraud, or anything diabolical, and there is no other explanation, this is called a miracle.
A true miracle breaks the laws of science and nature. It's a well-established fact that stone or plaster statues cannot "cry" and dried paintings cannot shed what seem to human tears, or fragrant oil, or human blood. These are supernatural events.
One such miraculous painting is known as "The Irish Madonna of Hungary." This is a picture of Mary with her hands folded in prayer and looking adoringly at her infant son, asleep on a little bed with his head resting on a big pillow.
Both mother and child have large gold crowns on their heads. Mary is clothed in what looks like a blue velvet garment, which matches the luxurious blue drapery behind her.
This image is hundreds of years old, and is also notable because it's a departure from the usual representation that shows Mary holding Jesus in one of her arms.
The earliest historical record of this particular painting is in the mid 1600s, when it hung in an Irish cathedral at Clonfert, a village outside of Galway. Catholics, during that time, faced intense persecution from English protestant invaders.
Priests were arrested and driven from their parishes. Among them was Bishop Walter Lynch. However, he didn't leave his post without first taking the beautiful painting of Mary from his cathedral for safe keeping.
Bishop Lynch fled to Galway, the city of his birth. But he and his clerical traveling companions soon had to flee to an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Their new home proved temporary, as the British troops soon invaded.
The bishop and his priests then sought refuge on the European continent, where they dispersed to various countries.
Bishop Lynch traveled to Flanders and Rome, and then ventured to Vienna, Austria. There, he happened to meet a visiting Hungarian bishop by the name of Pusky Janos.
The kindly Hungarian took pity upon his new Irish friend, and invited him into his diocese in Gyor.
The Bishop Moves to Hungary
Bishop Lynch was given the position of assistant bishop in Gyor, a post he held for about a decade. He learned to speak Hungarian and he ministered to the poor and the oppressed in that city. The local people regarded him as a very holy man, and they were very accepting of him.
Although Bishop Lynch liked Hungary, and the people he served, he planned to return to Ireland and he made plans to do so. However, just before his trip, he became sick and passed away at age 68. Before dying, though, he gave the miraculous picture to Bishop Janos, who hung it in his own cathedral.
Bishop Lynch is interred at the cathedral, although no one today is sure as to the exact location of his tomb. However, the Diocese of Gyor has kept very good records on Bishop Lynch, and the longstanding ties between Ireland and Hungary.
Irish Catholics also haven't forgotten the kindness extended by Bishop Janos. In 1997, Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert traveled to Gyor to meet Bishop Lajos Papai, who presented him with a copy of The Irish Madonna.
Devotion to the Irish Madonna
The painting was as well received by the people of Gyor as the Irish bishop who brought it there. When it arrived, it was credited with helping to drive invading Turks from the region. Hungarian Catholics, to this day, have continued bringing their petitions and intentions to the Irish Madonna.
Something extraordinary happened on March 17, 1697, on the feast of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who converted the Irish to Catholicism. The feast fell on a Sunday that year, and the Gyor cathedral was filled with worshippers. Suddenly, the painting began to shed tears of blood that ran down Mary's face. The many people attending Mass gathered around the portrait.
The blood ran for hours. As this continued, people who weren't attending Mass heard of this miracle and rushed to the cathedral. This event was recorded and many people gave their written testimonies. A document bearing witness to this event was even signed by several civil officials.
Many believe these tears of blood were shed because the Mother of God was so upset about the religious persecution in Ireland, which resulted in the loss of many lives.
People from all over Hungary and beyond now make pilgimages to the cathedral in Gyor to see the Madonna. Hungarian priests also regularly travel there to pray before the image, which hangs prominently above the altar.
A cloth used to wipe the blood off of the painting was preserved and is displayed in a glass case. The blood stains are still visible.
Catholics in Hungary have such a strong devotion to the Irish Madonna that it's common practice for them to entrust their newborn babies to her care.
The Irish Madonna is also known as "Consoler of the Afflicated," since countless people through the years have presented her with their pains and sorrows.