: Our Lady of Akita, Japan

Created in the 1960s by a Buddhist woodcarver, the wooden Virgin Mary resided quietly for years in the chapel of a Japanese convent in the northwestern town Akita. Yet today, the statue and her tiny chapel are world renowned for miraculous apparitions and healings. Beginning in 1973, the solid wooden statue was seen weeping, perspiring, and bleeding. She also reportedly cured a deaf nun and healed a visitor’s brain tumor. Scientists have not been able to explain these phenomena. Catholic leaders have approved of the Lady of Akita miracles, albeit hesitantly.

The Miracle of Sister Agnes

Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, 42, entered the Our Lady of Akita convent in May 1973. A recent convert from Buddhism, Sister Agnes had spent the past several decades battling numerous health problems, believed to have stemmed from a botched appendix surgery. For years, she had been deaf in her left ear and slowly, her ability to hear out of her right hear was diminishing. A few months before entering the convent, her hearing was officially lost, as documented by her application for and approval of state disability subsidies. As per state policy, her total and incurable deafness was confirmed by two experts (Dr. Sawada of the Niigata Rosai Hospital in Joetsu, Niigata and Dr. Arai of the Eye and Ear Division of Akita Red Cross Hospital) in order for her to receive the disability payments.