Thousands of pilgrims have overwhelmed a small church in Argentina after blood was said to be oozing down the face of an image of Jesus Christ.
A red substance was photographed running from the forehead of Jesus and down his cheek in a church depiction of the Last Supper.
Local priest Father Jorge Gandur said the 'ooze comes from one of the wounds on the left side of the forehead of Christ produced by the crown of thorns'.
The stains were first noticed on Friday by two men who had entered the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Yerba Buena, Tucuman province.
The pair reported the substance to Father Gandur, who took samples of the substance to be scientifically tested to see if it was human blood.
After local media were tipped off that the men had seen Christ weeping 'tears of blood' the streets surrounding the church became jammed pilgrims wanting to see the phenomenon for themselves.
Hundreds of people were reported to be crying and praying fervently in at least two streets leading up to the church.
The area has become so congested and the church so crowded that on Sunday priests celebrated Mass in the street outside.
As more people arrived from surrounding provinces, officials of the Archdiocese of Tucuman yesterday urged worshippers to exercise prudence and caution and not to jump to conclusions about the alleged authenticity of the image.
'If this is something wrought by God, it will have continuity, and if it is of men, it will disappear,' Father Gandur said.
'As a priest, at no time have I wished to create false expectations,' he said.
'I am not going to support deceit. Something happened here that divine wisdom will explain in time.'
The Roman Catholic Church is cautious in dealing with claims of so-called 'private revelations' because so many later turn out to be false.
Hundreds have been reported in the last century but only a few are considered to be authentic.
The Vatican has admitted that it believes most are the fruits of the imaginations of the alleged visionaries or the elaborate hoaxes of people seeking to gain financially.
Five years ago, for instance, a statue of St Pìo of Pietrelcina, a 20th century priest commonly known as 'Padre Pio', was said to have wept blood in a church in Marsicovetere, Italy, but tests later showed that the blood belonged to a woman.
Last week Church officials in France rejected the claims of a visionary who said the Virgin Mary was using her as a mouthpiece to speak to the world.
In 2007 the Vatican also aggressively dismissed as 'hysterical' the claims that the Mother of Christ was appearing to a woman in the back garden of her home in Surbiton, Surrey
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