The Gazing Eyes of Jesus, The Agony of Christ

February 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

In all my hours flying alone in the heavens as a Marine Corps fighter pilot, I never saw a UFO. I wish I had. If I had encountered one, with my cool, dispassionate, test-pilot perspective, I could have convinced the naysayer.

Miraculous-Crucifix-LimpiasIn all my days as a calculating business executive in the world of finance, I never saw a ghost. I wish I had. My mother said she did but I never believed her. If I could have shared her experience, if they indeed float among us, my analytical, suffer-no-fools mentality could have prevailed upon the skeptical.

In my relatively short life as a Catholic in love with Christ and the Church, I’ve never experienced a mystical event. I wish I had and I pray that I do. Those moments must be a strange combination of faith-affirmation and confusion. I crave such a moment because I have such a difficult time reading and believing the accounts of others who have been so blessed–and I would love to share such a revelation with the world. UFOs and ghosts are one thing. But God?

It’s not like I was born in Missouri but still …

My crucifix is a prized possession. I always wear it­­—to go through a day without it seems inconceivable. So when I heard about The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias, I decided to do some research.

What a mind-blowing journey–I’d like to share some of the discovery. I first have to thank Glenn Dallaire and his website Miracles of the Church for the following information which I have liberally copied. There’s more documentation on his site and other exciting observations as well.

The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias is located in the 16th century Church of St. Peter in Santander, Spain, not far from the popular alleged apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Garabandal, Spain. The Crucifix is a beautiful 6 foot life-size figure of the crucified Jesus, and is located directly above the main altar. The miraculous crucifix is believed to have been the work of Pedro de Mena, who died in 1693, and the crucifix was given to the church by Father Diego de la Piedra Secadura, who had been born at Limpias in 1716.

The crucifix is a meditation on the sufferings of Our Lord portraying Him in the final moments of His agony. Measuring six feet tall, the corpus is clothed with a loin cloth that is held in place with a rope. The feet are one atop the other and are pierced with a single nail. The index and middle fingers of both pierced hands are extended as though giving a final blessing. The face of Our Lord is of particular beauty, with its glass eyes looking toward Heaven so that, for the most part, only the whites of the eyes are visible.

The years 1914 and 1919 are the two years in which the miracles are documented. The first in 1914 concerned a monk who went to the Church of St. Peter to fix the light over the altar.

“After I had worked for two hours, in order to rest myself a little I began to clean the figure so that it could be seen more clearly. My head was on a level with the Head of the Christ, and at a distance of only a couple of feet from it. It was a lovely day and through the window in the sanctuary a flood of light streamed into the church and lit up the whole altar. As I was gazing at the crucifix with the closest attention, I noticed with astonishment that Our Lord’s eyes were gradually closing, and for five minutes I saw them quite closed.”

Overwhelmed, he fell from the ladder. Shaken, the monk still managed to make it outside and was able to relay his story to the sacristan who was about to ring the Angelus. His response?

“He said he was not surprised as he had already heard that the Santo Cristo had closed His eyes on one other occasion, and that it was probably brought about by the working of some interior mechanism.”

The monk, “thinking that the movement I had observed in the eyes of the figure was to be attributed in any case to a mechanism,” attached no further importance to his vision. Yet, the final words attributed to this event by the monk are quite interesting.

“Since then I have often cleaned the crucifix, and at the same time examined it minutely, and am convinced that there is neither a spring nor any other mechanism on it. What is more, the eyes were so firmly fixed that even by pressing hard with one’s fingers they could not be made to move in the least, nor could they be turned in any direction, as I have proved myself again and again.”

In 1919 however, Jesus came alive. The village of Limpias at the time was not a hot-bed of faith. Quite the contrary. So, the pastor of the church recruited two Capuchins, noted for their apostolic zeal and missionary success, to inject much-needed devotion into the faithful.

Once again, something mysterious happened.

On the last day of the mission, Sunday, March 30, while the Archpriest was celebrating Holy Mass, both missionaries were occupied in the confessional. Fr. Agatangelo (one of the missionaries), however, delivered the day’s sermon based on the words, “My son, give me thy heart.” (Prov. 23:26). While he was speaking, a girl of about 12 entered the confessional of Fr. Jalon (the other missionary) and told him that the eyes of Christ on the cross were closed. Thinking that this was the product of the child’s imagination, the priest ignored her claim until other children also came to him with the same message.

After Fr. Agatangelo finished the address and was about to return to his confessional, Fr. Jalon approached him and told him of the children’s claim. Both priests then looked at the crucifix but saw nothing unusual. Presently a man in the congregation shouted for everyone to look upon the crucifix. In a few moments the people confirmed with great excitement what the children had seen. Some of the people began crying, others shouted that they had seen a miracle, others fell to their knees in prayer while others called out to God for mercy.

This was not the end of the spiritual excitement. 1919 was a very good year for multiple and breath-taking apparitions.

Because of the newspaper reports, pilgrimages from near and distant towns began to arrive in Limpias, for the newspaper reports detailing accounts of the wonderful crucifix spread the news to all parts of Spain and finally to other countries including the United States. One journalist who watched in amazement at the movement of the eyes and mouth of our Lord stated:

“I could perceive two movements of the jawbone, as if He were saying two syllables with His lips. I shut my eyes quite tight and asked myself: “What will He have said?” The answer was not long in coming, for in my innermost self I clearly heard the significant and blessed words, “Love Me!”

By 1921, the village was a very busy place.

The number of pilgrims had increased to such an extent that foreign traffic in Limpias was determined to be greater than the visitors to Lourdes. Additionally, numerous Princes, Barons, politicians and other notables also visited Limpias, as did dignitaries of the Church in Spain including bishops and cardinals. Archbishops also arrived from Mexico, Peru, Manila, Cuba, and other foreign nations.

The multiple albums that are found in the sacristy of the church of Limpias contain well over 8,000 testimonies of people who had seen the wonderful apparitions. Of these, 2,500 were sworn on oath. Among these witnesses were members of religious orders, priests, doctors, lawyers, professors, and governors of universities, officers, merchants, workmen, countryfolk, unbelievers and even atheists.

I thought I’d end with one of the most moving observations.

A report made by Dr. Penamaria was published in the paper La Montana dated May, 1920. The doctor described what seemed to him to be “…a re-enactment of Christ’s death on the Cross.” He writes that after witnessing the movement of the statue’s eyes and mouth, and after changing locations in the church to verify the miracle, he prayed for a more distinctive proof, something more extraordinary “… that would leave no scope to further doubt, and would give me positive grounds for His miracle, so that I might also proclaim it to all and sundry, and defend it against every opponent, even at the risk of losing my life.”

He then writes: “This request seemed pleasing to Our Lord … A moment later His mouth was twisted sharply to the left, His glassy, pain-filled eyes gazed up to heaven with the sad expression of those eyes that look and yet do not see. His leadcolored lips appeared to tremble; the muscles of the neck and breast were contracted and made breathing forced and laboured. His truly Hippocratic features showed the keenest pangs of death. His arms seemed to be trying to get loose from the cross with convulsive backward and forward movements, and showed clearly the piercing agony that the nails caused in His hands at each movement.

Then followed the indrawing of a breath, then a second … a third … I do not know how many… always with painful oppression; then a frightful spasm, as with someone who is suffocating and struggling for air, at which the mouth and nose were opened wide. Now follows an outpouring of blood, fluid, frothing, that runs over the under-lip, and which the Saviour sucks up with His bluish, quivering tongue, that He slowly and gently passes two or three times in succession over the lower lip; then an instant of slight repose, another slow breath … now the nose becomes pointed, the lips are drawn together rhythmically, and then extend, the bluish cheek-bones project, the chest expands and contracts violently after which His head sinks limply on His breast, so that the back of the head can be seen distinctly. Then … He expires! . . . I have tried to describe in outline what I saw during more than two hours…”

Wow.

So, for those of us who have been left out in the cold in regards to these revelatory moments, what are we to think of this extraordinary Crucifix? Is it true? Nothing has happened in almost one hundred years. Why then? Why not now?

And if we were to experience such an episode, how would we react? For private reflection only? Or would we hire the best public relations firm in the world so that we could tell our story. To cast nets among the sea of men.

I’d pray for counsel to the very Jesus who inspired the artistry of that Crucufix and who sacrificed His life. For all of us.

  • Larry D Stewart

    On May 25th 2015, while walking the Camino de Santiago from St John Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain, I rented a car in Burgos, Spain and drove to Limpias to view the Agony of Christ Crucifix. We were able to attend an evening Mass and spent sometime after the Mass in mediation. The next day we returned to the church, but it was locked, so we returned to Burgos for the continuation of our Camino walk. The experience was very special, for even the little time that we were able to view the main altar. The town is small, with no religious commercialization, but well worth a stop on a religious pilgrimage.
    We had decided to visit the Limpias church while on our Camino walk, due to the fact that we were privileged to have received a full scale reproduction of this crucifix for our chapel at Saint Stephen Catholic Church, Hermitage, TN. USA. The chapel has become a special space of mediation and our weekly rosaries.