Fifty Years: Our Lady Weeps in New Orleans

May 01, 2022 / Written by: Ben Broussard

She wept.

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima had been on pilgrimage for decades. She had touched millions of people around the world. Tears of love and repentance flowed from souls wherever she went.

And yet here, she wept.

Her messages had been heard by many—and ignored by so many others. The Miracle of the Sun was followed by many other miracles, at Fatima and around the world.

But men did not stop sinning. For this, she wept.

Prayer, sacrifice and amendment of life. These simple requests transformed the lives of three small children. The disasters, chastisements, and worldwide calamities she foretold in 1917 should have been a wakeup call.

The world would not heed the call. Would it heed her tears?

On July 16, 1972, photos were taken of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima that made headlines around the world. The statue had been photographed many times before—but never shedding tears. The tears were confirmed as authentic, and no human explanation could be found for the statue’s weeping.

With the passing of 50 years, let us look back on what led up to this miracle, and what has happened in the intervening years. The tears of the Queen of Heaven point to the chastisements still to come.

Jackson Square, New Orleans
Beautiful Jackson Square, New Orleans

Fatima Continued

Of the three children who saw Our Lady appear at Fatima, Lucia dos Santos was the only one to survive into adulthood. Learning to read and write from the Dorothean Sisters, Lucia wrote down everything about the apparitions just as Our Lady instructed.

Our Lady’s messages began to spread, first in Portugal. Translated into other languages, the Fatima apparitions soon became known throughout the world.

Lucia joined the Dorothean Sisters in 1925, taking the name Maria das Dores (Mary of Sorrows). She moved to their convent in Tuy, Spain. It was here she received private revelations of Our Lord and Our Lady. In 1929, Our Lady related the formal request for the devotion of the Five First Saturdays and the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister faithfully recorded all of this in obedience to her superiors.

In 1946, Sister obtained permission to enter the Carmelite Convent in Coimbra, Portugal, taking the name of Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With the spread of the Fatima devotion, artists depicting the apparitions sought permission to consult her. Jose Thedim, a renowned Portuguese sculptor, received detailed instructions from her as he fashioned a new statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

In a letter the following year, Sister requested this statue become a Pilgrim Statue, traveling the world so as to further spread Our Lady’s messages. On October 13, 1947, marking 30 years since the Miracle of the Sun, the Bishop of Leiria solemnly blessed the completed statue. Her pilgrim journeys around the world soon commenced.

After the first five years of travels, Pope Pius XII remarked: “In 1946, I crowned Our Lady of Fatima as Queen of the World and the following year, through the Pilgrim Virgin, She set forth as though to claim Her dominion, and the favors She performs along the way are such that we can hardly believe what we are seeing with our eyes.”

Our Lady of Fatima in New Orleans

Father Joseph Breault served as the third custodian for the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue. In July 1972, he arranged the first visit of the statue to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. From July 6 to 16, Fr. Breault brought Our Lady of Fatima to churches large and small. Public processions, rosaries, a Marian Triduum and many Masses were all part of the devotions.

Newspapers from 1972

Terrible news was on everyone’s minds: not long before, a deranged man wielding a hammer attacked Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica. This horrible sacrilege underscored the needs for prayer in reparation.

Msgr. Elmo Romagosa, editor of the Clarion Herald archdiocesan newspaper, spoke with Fr. Breault at the conclusion of this tour. As he later wrote:

A voice on the phone said: “Father, you told me to let you know if the Pilgrim Statue would weep. It is weeping now.”

The time was 9:15 pm. The date was July 17 and the voice was that of Fr. Joseph Breault, M.A.P., custodian of the Fatima Pilgrim Virgin statue which was venerated in a number of churches in this area between July 6 and 16.

I hastily got my camera and lights, phoned Clarion Herald editor Hal Ledet to come with his camera equipment as well and rushed to see for myself whether the statue was really weeping.

It was 9:10 pm when Fr. Breault first noticed moisture welling up in the statue’s eyes. I joined him about 9:30pm and saw for myself that some liquid had gathered in the eyes.

Hal Ledet and I shot photos in black and white and in color. We were hardly finished when the eyes seemed suddenly to begin drying out. Fr. Breault invited me to touch the still-wet eyes with my finger and upon so doing a droplet of the fluid clung to the tip of my finger. It was clearly visible to all.

Within a few minutes the eyes were totally dry. Fr. Breault told us this was the 13th time he had witnessed this phenomenon.

It was not to be the last. The next day, July 17, Msgr. Romagosa again received word from Fr. Breault:

The following morning, the phone rang about 6:15 with word that the statue had been weeping since four o’clock. And could I come out to take some more photos? I apologized saying I could not make it because I was scheduled to offer the 6:30 am Mass.

At 7:00 am, the phone rang again stating that the statue was still weeping. Once more I gathered my camera and lights and upon arrival at 7:30 am, I saw an abundance of fluid in the statue’s eyes and a large drop of liquid at the tip of the statue’s nose.

As I proceeded to shoot the pictures, I clearly saw movement of the fluid as it oozed forth under the lower eyelid.

Msgr. Romagosa then ran several tests to assure there was no natural explanation for what he witnessed. (see article on page 8 by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira). Fully satisfied as to the miraculous nature of the tears, all knelt and recited a decade of the rosary.

As Msgr. Romagosa packed up his camera equipment and prepared to leave, Fr. Breault presciently told him, “Father, the Virgin has a message for the world, but so few want to listen.”

Word of the Miracle Spreads

Msgr. Romagosa’s photos would soon be published, and then spread far and wide. Local interest in New Orleans resulted in a petition drive to have the statue return again. Archbishop Hannan ordered an investigation, wherein the previous findings of Msgr. Romagosa were confirmed. Laboratory analysts determined the liquid from the statue’s eyes were actual human tears. All doubts as to the miraculous nature of the tears were pushed aside.

Other publications in the US and abroad quickly took up the story. Given all that was happening in the world at the time, Catholics were not slow in acknowledging the significance.

Why Does Our Lady Weep?

Photographs and physical evidence confirmed the shedding of tears. The obvious question then arose: why?

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira wrote concerning the sorrows of the Blessed Mother:

Who, my Lady, seeing thee shed such tears would dare to ask thee why thou weepest? Neither the earth, nor the sea, nor all the heavens can serve as a term of comparison to thy sorrow.

When Our Lady appeared at Fatima, her last words to the three children summed up the entirety of the messages: “Let them offend Our Lord no more, Who is already so much offended.”

With the passing of time, it is clear that men did not heed her words. What more could she do than cry over her wayward children?

She wept in the city of New Orleans, long known as a destination for sin and vice. Mardi Gras extravagance would increase in immorality during the 1970s. It was 1978 when participants began exposing themselves for beads. It is estimated that this occurs 1,000 times every three minutes during Carnival in New Orleans.

Decadence Parade in New Orleans

August of 1972, just one month after Our Lady wept tears, marked the first Southern Decadence in the French Quarter. Starting small, this festival has grown to be one of the largest homosexual events in the world, with sins of impurity and nudity occurring in public. It is estimated 250,000 participated in this celebration of debauchery in 2018.

In 2005, New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Imagery of flooded streets and breached levies captured the world’s attention.

In an interview after the hurricane passed, retired Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans stated:

“I’ve been speaking at local parishes, and here’s what I kept telling the people. I say, look, we are responsible not only for our individual actions to God, but in addition to that, we are also citizens of a nation and in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, it says that a nation has a destiny and we are responsible whether we cause it or not for the course of morality in that nation. We are responsible as citizens for the sexual attitude, disregard of family rights, drug addiction, the killing of 45 million unborn babies, the scandalous behavior of some priests — so we have to understand that certainly the Lord has a right to chastisement.… We have reached a depth of immorality that we have never reached before. And the chastisement was Katrina…”

Writing about Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mr. Luiz Solimeo wrote:

“With every passing year, New Orleans became increasingly a symbol for those who ignore Our Lady of Fatima’s message of conversion. Could Our Lady have chosen New Orleans for this miraculous weeping because, in weeping over New Orleans, She was weeping over everything it would come to symbolize?”

Hurricane damage in New Orleans

A Flood of the Worst Kind

The moral degradation was by no means limited to New Orleans.

It would be bad enough if the immorality that has spread in American society was limited to personal sin. Tragically, in recent decades whole movements have formed to normalize all manner of perversion and corrupt the innocent.

Roe Vs Wade

In July 1972 when Our Lady wept in New Orleans, the Supreme Court of the United States was deciding the case of Roe vs. Wade. With this decision, the high court paved the way for abortion on demand nationwide. Since that decision was released in 1973, millions of babies have been killed.

Slowly and stealthily, public expressions of the Catholic Faith disappeared from the American landscape. Public processions ceased. Parishes closed as large numbers of priests and religious abandoned their vocations. Catholic schools abandoned their mission to form students in the Faith.

The enemies of the Church were emboldened to directly attack the Faith. Blasphemous attacks against the sacred persons of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother increased in America. Hail Mary and The Last Temptation of Christ are but two blasphemous films that appeared in the 1980s.

America Needs Fatima

With high-profile blasphemous entertainment taking aim at Our Lady herself in the 1980s, the American TFP would not stand idly by. The America Needs Fatima campaign began to oppose the overt anti-Catholic push in society. Starting small, gradually more and more Catholics stepped forward to defend the Faith.

Home visitations with replicas of Our Lady’s Pilgrim Statue began. Custodians urged as many Americans as possible to heed Our Lady’s requests. All across America, thousands have responded to her call to prayer, sacrifice and amendment of life.

America Needs Fatima was founded with an important mission: win the United States for Mary Most Holy. Though our country has become the loudspeaker for the spread of immorality, America Needs Fatima is at the forefront of raising up the reaction.

Public Square Rosary Rallies have multiplied. Protests, both in person and online, have effectively opposed one anti-Catholic blasphemy after another. Millions of rosaries and devotional materials have been distributed across America.

Catholics young and old, from all walks of life around the country have stepped up to heed Our Lady’s requests. Through their dedication and sacrifices, they have shown they want the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—in America and throughout the world.

The fight for the soul of America continues in spite of all odds. As Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira said, “A man does not love his country for how it is, but for how it should be. And he fights to make it like it should be.”

Fatima—Far from Over

Wedding at Cana - Our Lord changes water to wine

At the Wedding at Cana, the Blessed Virgin Mary said to the waiters, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5) These are the last words of hers recorded in the Scriptures.

In spite of the failure of sinful humanity, Our Lady continually renews this counsel. In the 20th century, she most famously gave her program to avoid chastisement: prayer, sacrifice and amendment of life.

Parts of Our Lady’s prophecies at Fatima have already come to pass. During the apparition of July 13, 1917, she said:

“The war [World War I] is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI [World War II].”

Other parts of her warnings have yet to happen. Later in the same apparition, she told the children:

If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.

As this article goes to press, Russia has invaded Ukraine. Millions have had to flee their homes and seek shelter in neighboring countries. Countless others live in fear that the conflict could spread to other parts of the world.

More than any previous year, 2022 has seen more Americans wondering if we are on the brink of World War III.

Within the United States, divisions in society are increasing. Parents objecting to the corruption of the innocence of their children are maligned and called “domestic terrorists.” The month of June, traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is blasphemously labeled “Pride Month” across the country. Open displays of the Satanic are on the rise. Anyone not celebrating the perversion of society runs the risk of becoming a victim of the cancel culture.

More than ever, Americans are talking about another civil war.

A Higher Perspective

Three Fatima Children and Our Lady

Any Catholic looking at this situation should naturally be upset. But let us have a higher perspective: how does Our Lady feel? All these years later, the best solution for the world’s problems lies in consoling her Immaculate Heart. Rosaries of reparation, both public and private, the Five First Saturdays devotion, offering up sacrifices both great and small, amending our lives and getting others to do so as well—these efforts can go a long way to aid Our Lady’s plan to bring a heavenly solution.

She spoke to three shepherd children about the chastisements facing the world. She shed miraculous tears to further warn of impending dangers. 50 years later, it is clear we are living in the era she foretold—an era of punishment, to be followed by an era of triumph.

To conclude, let us heed the words of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, trusting in Our Lady’s action:

“Yes, we turn our eyes to Our Lady of Fatima, requesting of her the contrition that will obtain for us the great pardons, the strength to wage the great battles, and the abnegation to be detached in the great victories that will bring the establishing of her Reign. We desire these victories with our whole heart, even if to reach them, the Church and the human race must undergo the apocalyptic—but how just, regenerating, and merciful—chastisements she predicted in 1917 at the Cova da Iria.”

Note: The Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima is under the custodianship of the World Apostolate of Fatima.