POPE Francis has said some visions of the Virgin Mary are "not always real" following claims by an Italian woman that a Marian statue belonging to her has wept tears of blood.
The pontiff told Italian broadcaster Rai 1 of his thoughts on alleged miracles involving the Virgin Mary following calls for his intervention in a case involving a statue in the town of Trevignano that has attracted pilgrims from across Italy.
Maria Giuseppe Scarpulla, who has gathered a following over her religious claims, bought the statue at Medjugorje in Bosnia, where believers claim Mary appeared before a group of children in 1981.
A private investigator has alleged that the blood on the statue came from a pig, and a local bishop has urged people to stop flocking to the area while his diocese investigates the phenomenon.
Pope Francis has previously said the original reported visions at Medjugorje merit continued investigation, but cast doubt on claims of ongoing apparitions at the site, which continues to attract thousands of pilgrims annually.
Other famous sites said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary include Knock in Co Mayo, where witnesses claim they saw her in a vision in 1879.
Pope Francis visited the Knock Shrine during his visit to Ireland in 2018.
Speaking of the claims on the statue in Trevignano, Pope Francis said: “Don’t look there.
“There are images of the Madonna that are real, but the Madonna has never drawn (attention) to herself.
He added: “I like to see her with her finger pointing up to Jesus. When Marian devotion is too self-centred, it’s not good. Both in the devotion and in the people who carry it forward.”