STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich., Nov. 14 -- Chaldean Catholic priests are taking it upon themselves to study the legitimacy of claims that a religious statue weeps tears of oil that possess healing powers.
The statue in question is one of St. Philomena, the daughter of a Greek king beheaded for refusing to marry a Roman emperor.
Some Catholics believe St. Philomena has healing powers and eight people say they have touched the tears that have come from the eyes of a statue that was purchased by Kevin Khadir, who owns the All Saints store in the Detroit suburb.
Khadir purchased the plaster statue for $1,000 last year from a parish in Florida. He now keeps it locked away at a sanctuary in Troy while Chaldean priests in the Detroit area study the wet substance that has come from the statue.
Khadir said the leaking began Aug. 26 and was particularly heavy on Oct. 31.
"Before the oil comes out, her cheeks and hands get red," Khadir said. "Sometimes, her hair drenches. Oil also comes from her hands, her anchor, the palm leaf and under her arms and feet.
"It's God's will," Khafir said. "I have found something precious."
For the record, Archdiocese of Detroit officials are skeptical of the whole matter.
"We're not getting involved in that," spokeswoman Corinna Weber told the Detroit News.
But people from as far away as Louisiana, Texas and California have shown up in Detroit in recent weeks, hoping to get a glimpse of the statue.
As recently as last week, the statue was honored at a special mass at St. Edmund's Church in Warren. About 150 people turned out to pray even though the statue was not present at the service.
Khadir said he does not plan to keep the statue locked away permanently. He said he'd eventually like to have the statue passed from church to church in the Detroit area for public viewing.