UNION CITY – Inside the modest home of Cora Lorenzo, where she claims mysterious oils appear on small religious statues and crucifixes, the real miracle may be that she can squeeze in all the visitors.
Thousands of devout Catholics have heard about the oil said to flow from objects in Lorenzo’s home and they’ve made long journeys to see if indeed a miracle is occurring
“People just keep coming,” Lorenzo said. “It just keeps growing, and growing, and growing and growing. One person will make an appointment for 20 visitors, and 75 show up.”
So many visitors in fact that there is hardly any room for Lorenzo’s neighbors anymore.
“Parking is horrible,” said neighbor Joe Hernandez. “There’s constant litter and noise late at night. The neighbors are fed up with it.”
The congestion in the area is so bad some of those who live on Lorenzo’s street are considering passing around a petition indicating that the area is not zoned for a church.
Lorenzo says the oil began appearing in 1995. A small cup she bought in Lourdes, France dried up one evening. But the next morning a sweet-smelling oily liquid had taken the place of the holy water.
At first Lorenzo thought perhaps her husband or son put the oil in the cup.
They denied doing so.
Now strangers from as far away as Australia, Nigeria, Holland and Indonesia drop by the Lorenzo home to witness what many of them call a miracle.
Patricia Wu of Daly City came by to rub some of the oil on the head of her 4-year-old son, hoping that such an application would do something to alleviate the condition that covered the boy’s body with small red bumps.
After dabbing the boy with the oil the bumps began to vanish almost immediately, Wu said.
“I’m religious and I believe in miracles,” Wu told the Mercury News. “But my husband says, ‘No, this just happened.’ Men are hard to believe in these kinds of things.”
Another woman said her prayers in hopes of a better job were answered within 24 hours, because the praying was done in Lorenzo’s home where the oil flows so freely.
Skeptics aren’t so impressed by Lorenzo’s purported miracle oils and say other similar claims have proven less than miraculous.
Joe Nickell, a writer for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, says olive oil drizzled onto religious objects can stay fresh for weeks and those who own the items seldom allow the objects to be examined.
A television crew that examined “blood” dripping from a Virgin Mary statue in Quebec 15 years ago found the substance to be pork drippings. Two years ago in Kansas, blood said to weep from a plaque of Mary turned out to be that of the icon’s owner.
A spokeswoman for the Oakland Diocese, Barbara Flannery, says there’s nothing wrong with Lorenzo’s “miracles” as long as Lorenzo isn’t asking for money or donations.
“It sounds like nothing that she is doing is outside the teaching of the church,” Flannery said. “She’s probably doing a lot of good.”