Search using this query type:

Search only these record types:

Exhibit Page

Advanced Search (Items only)

Toronto Weeping Icon display box

Dublin Core



On September 1, 1996, an icon (religious painting) in a Greek Orthodox church in Toronto, Canada, began to "weep." CSICOP paranormal investigator Joe Nickell was invited by the Toronto Sun to the site for a promised opportunity to examine the "miracle." However, the permission to conduct an investigation was subsequently withdrawn, but Nickell's investigation of the icon (actually a color photographic print) persuaded him that the substance was probably a non-drying oil (e.g., olive oil) applied to the surface. It was not freshly flowing and did not emanate from the eyes. As it happened, the priest had formerly preached at a church in Queens, New York, which had also been embroiled in a controversy over a weeping icon. Worse, he had been defrocked for having worked in a brothel in Athens, Greece.

Subsequently, Nickell was reinvited to Toronto -- this time by the Greek Orthodox parent church authorities who had regained control of the church. With a police fraud squad detective standing by, and two constables posted outside, Nickell examined the picture and took samples for the lab to analyze. He told the media, "There is nothing that distinguishes this icon from a fraud." (See Joe Nickell, "Something to Cry About: The Case of the Weeping Icon," Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 1997, pp. 19-20.) This display shows photographs from that event (courtesy of Brian Phillips, Buffalo News). At the left is a votive candle and at right some oil-soaked cotton recovered by Nickell from the site.



Brian Phillips


Digital image copyright 2014 Images in this collection are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the expressed written permission of the Center for Inquiry and Dr. Joe Nickell. Patrons of this digital museum are free to utilize materials from the museum for non-commercial and educational purposes.