Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment.
Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963. The chapel in the convent of Japanese Catholic female religious order Seitai Hoshikai (Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist) was established in 1970s. The statue was enshrined on the left side of the corridor of the chapel and the statue of St. Joseph sits on the right side.
The statue of Virgin Mary started to shed tears in 1975 and in continued until 1981. Local church authorities tested the cotton swabs used for wiping the tears, which have reportedly been proved to be of human origin. Estimated 2,000 people had witnessed the weeping of the statue and it was broadcast on a national television.
In 1984, Bishop Jon Shojiro Ito of Niigata Diocese issued a pastoral letter to recognize"the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events concerning the statue of the Holy Mother Mary" and authorized "the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita" within the diocese.
Later, the nuns constructed the Garden of Mary and Garden of Lamb to allow spaces for meditation and prayer to an increasing number of visitors.
Our Lady of Akita Church, about 576 kilometers from capital Tokyo, is now a popular shrine that attract pilgrims every day.
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