Almost two months after a woman in Italy was exposed for fraud involving a statue of the Virgin Mary, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that apparitions involving the Madonna are “not always real.”
Virgin Mary apparitions ‘not always real’, says Pope after statue row https://t.co/BPZ4LP6VrT
— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) June 4, 2023
The Pope made these indirect remarks to Maria Giuseppe Scarpulla, whose claims of the Virgin Mary statue she bought from Medjugorje, Bosnia, shedding tears of blood and communicating to her, bringing her notoriety and devoted followers, during an interview with Italian television channel Rai 1 on June 4th.
“Don’t look there,” Pope Francis responded when asked a question about the apparitions of the Virgin Mary. “There are images of the Madonna that are real, but the Madonna has never drawn [attention] to herself,”
“I like to see her with her finger pointing up to Jesus. When Marian devotion is too self-centered, it’s not good. Both in the devotion and in the people who carry it forward,” the pontiff also added.
The interview with the Pope was released just a few days after residents of Trevignano Romano, where Scarpulla received devotees who flocked to the rumored Madonna statue, asked the Pope to intervene on the issue. Scarpulla was also known by many names to her followers, such as “The Saint,” “Clairvoyant,” and Gisella Cardia. She organized monthly ceremonies in a park overlooking Lake Bracciano, where the Virgin Mary statue she claimed to have shed tears of blood was enclosed in a glass case.
The local bishop, Marco Salvi, urged followers to stop flocking to the site while his diocese was investigating the phenomenon surrounding the statue. Many devotees prayed on the statue in search of cures for sickness and received “divine” messages from Scarpulla.
She’s currently under judicial investigation after reports of victims surfaced, where they told stories of how Scarpulla scammed them into donating hefty sums of money, along with claims from a private investigator that the blood from the statue came from pig’s blood.
Scarpulla had been previously convicted of bankruptcy fraud in the past. Nevertheless, she started a foundation where she collected money for a supposed center for sick children. One man told La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, that he and his wife donated €123,000 ($132,268) to Scarpulla’s foundation.
Scarpulla left Trevignano Romano amidst the chaos last April and returned only a few weeks later. While she still hosted ceremonies, fewer people attended these events. Scarpulla said the investigations and an order to destroy the glass case don’t deter her.
“I won’t budge an inch because I’m in the house of God and have the Madonna on my side,” Scarpulla said.