LAKE RIDGE, Va. -- An associate pastor at a Catholic church bears stigmata, the marks of Christ on the cross, and statues in the sanctuary weep in his presence, the pastor and congregation members told The Washington Post.
'It seems to be a physical phenomenon assciated with Father (James) Bruse,' said the Rev. Daniel Hamilton, the pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.
Stigmata, marks on the wrists, feet and side where Christ was nailed to the cross, have been attributed to Catholic mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi.
Bruse, who showed reporters pink marks on his wrists and the back of his hands after Sunday services, told the Post, 'When it first started, I thought it was some kind of skin disease.'
When asked about a possible hoax, Bruse told the paper: 'I would be just as cynical. I would be questioning this.'
Hamilton called himself 'the ultimate cynic' on such matters. He said on New Year's Eve, when Bruse approached him about weeping statues, he noticed the marks, and that he later went to Bruse's room in the rectory.
'I looked at his statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the statue was crying blood,' Hamilton said. 'I backed out of his room.'
Hamilton said when he returned to his own room, a statue Bruse had given him was crying as well.
The Diocesan Chancery in Arlington issued a statement that in all such instances, 'the church recommends great caution in forming judgments and advises against any speculation on the causes or possible significance of the reported events.'
Bruse said the marks, also on his feet and right side, last bled about 10 days ago but added the pain still exists. 'I think it's a phenomenon,' he told the paper. 'I feel like it's from Christ.'
One congregation member, Tom Saunders, said he has seen supernatural events in Bruse's presence on three occasions. Once he was holding a statue in Bruse's presence and 'it started crying. I was amazed, incredible. ... When you are holding something in your hand and actually feel (the water) ... it's hard to say I don't believe it.'