WORCESTER, MA—Nearly a week after a statue of the Virgin Mary began shedding what appeared to be actual tears, worshippers at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church told reporters Wednesday they had lost patience with the figure's nonstop whining and carrying on.
"Like everyone else, I got sucked in at first," said the Rev. Paul Doherty, the pastor of the church, who admitted he had once kissed the tears streaming from the eyes of the 5-foot wooden altarpiece. "But now it's just too much—crying in the morning when I come in, crying during baptisms, crying, crying, crying all the time. I've called around to other parishes, and all of their Marys are doing fine, even the cheap plaster ones that have to stand outside in the wind and rain. There must be thousands of Marys in the Greater Boston area, but ours is the only one who can't hold it together."
"To think I actually thought it was a miracle," added Doherty, looking up at the statue's glistening, tear-slicked face. "The real miracle would be if Old Faithful over here would turn off the waterworks for five seconds."
Longtime church organist Agnes Wright told reporters that the weeping statue had become a distraction and that she now privately hoped someone would lay a drape over the self- indulgent figure or at least turn it so it was facing the wall.
"I know she's sad, but c'mon, she's acting like the world revolves around her or something," said Wright, adding that Mary's incessant sorrow had made receiving communion a "chore." "I just spent the past 10 years watching my husband slowly die from Alzheimer's, and I cried on my own time. I didn't make it this endless production."
"Show a little dignity," Wright continued. "The statue of Jesus has nails through his hands and feet, for God's sake, but you don't see him crying."
Despite warnings from church officials that any pilgrimages to the statue would only encourage its blubbering, thousands of faithful from around the world have converged on the church in hopes of getting a glimpse of Mary and her extraordinary appetite for drama. Day and night, visitors have been standing in lines a quarter of a mile long in order to witness the statue's breathtaking self-absorption firsthand.
"I came all the way from Oklahoma City because I had to see Mary's big pity party with my own eyes," said Jen Gammons, 53. "When I finally got up close enough to get a good look, I just wanted to smack her. We've all got problems, okay? But we don't all break down and start bawling like a bunch of babies."
At press time, church officials said they planned to continue services as normal for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that the statue's weeping continues unabated.
"I don't even want to deal with it at all, frankly, so I'm just going to ignore her," Doherty said. "Why indulge it, you know? I'm not going to debase myself by going over and consoling her and saying, 'Oh, you poor, poor thing, what's wrong?' Screw that. I'm going to read my sermon, and if she wants to cry all through it like some kind of grade-school prima donna, then she can be my guest, but I refuse to so much as even look in her direction."
When reached by reporters, a Vatican spokesman said Pope Benedict XVI would be arriving in Worcester next week to "give that statue something to cry about."