This giant gelati cone is the Church of the Weeping Madonna, the Basilica Santuario Madonna della Lacrime. I think it’s meant to represent a tear drop.
It’s a shrine which houses a wall plaque of the Madonna, a cheap, mass-produced wall plaque of gypsum and one which, moreover, miraculously wept on the wall of a Siracusan home sixty years ago.
You can’t examine this weeping bas relief (I don’t know if it’s still weeping, my questions were met with silence) it’s protected by glass, no doubt to keep it safe from people like me.
I’ve been known to be pretty savage when it comes to weeping statues (like the one seeping rose oil in Brisbane in 2004) and I’ve publicly scoffed at the Tooth Fairy, so the church guardians were well within their rights to ignore my questions.
As for the architecture, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Who’s to say that future generations won’t admire this concrete shuttlecock stacked high to the heavens? The Basilica Santuario Madonna della Lacrime may very well one day inspire the same sense of wonder that the Temple of Apollo inspires in me.
Here’s a video of the miraculous thing from 1953. Somewhat scratchy as old films can be, but you can see the Madonna, complete with tears, children lifted high to touch the holy object and many people hoping to be cured of their ailments. I hope they were.
I’m not laughing at the people in this video. They don’t deserve that. Their devotion is real and their belief in the tears of the Madonna is real. But this was in 1953 and the world was very different with Sicily just one of the places in Europe still reeling from the shock and the dreadful grief brought by war. They had a rough time of it in Sicily, and these people are clearly marked by sorrow. They also show hope, and my heart goes out to them. I could weep too.
But we’ve all moved on a bit, particularly in our understanding of basic chemistry and capillary action. What got to me today was the crowd in the church venerating the plaque.
I heard voices raised in prayer in a half dozen languages. The legend of the Weeping Madonna of Siracusa has travelled far.
Although there’s been an alarming rise in the sightings of weeping Madonnas in the past dozen years or so, you don’t see many common or garden tears anymore.
These days, the statues weep blood. Just as well, we have colour television now.