A growing number of Catholics in Fresno, California believe that a tree outside St. John's Cathedral is weeping God's tears.
"When you say 'glory be to God in Jesus' name' the tree starts throwing out more water," parishioner Maria Ybarra told KGPE-TV. Ybarra was the first person to feel the drops of liquid, which began falling from the Crape Myrtle tree on Wednesday. As news spread, more and more people gathered under the tree to pray. "I said my prayer and asked the Lord to give me a miracle cause I'm really, really sick," Rosemarie Navarro said.
Fresno arborist Jon Reelhorn told KGPE-TV that there's a scientific explanation for the falling liquid... the excrement of insects known as aphides or tree lice. "The aphides will suck the sap, the sap goes through the aphid and then it is a honey dew excrement from the aphid and it gets so heavy in the summertime that it will drip down," Reelhorn said. He also pointed out that other trees on the same street had liquid dripping from them as well. Entomologist Richard Covelo confirmed Reelhorn's analysis in an interview with Fox 29, explaining, "Crape Myrtle trees as a generality can get really high populations of Crape Myrtle aphids and at times it can look so bad that it looks like the tree is raining out of it with all the honey dew dripping down."
Despite the explanation, some parishioners remain convinced that there is something more to the tree. "They can say it's this theory, that theory, the tree does this every year, it's odd when it happens when there is bunch of people praying. When you are asking the Holy Spirit to reveal itself and then it happens all of a sudden and it's still here," parishioner Janine Esquivel-Oji told Fox 29.
"I can tell you looking at it from a scientific standpoint and a spiritual standpoint it is the work of God manifesting here on earth," Ybarra agreed.
This is the insect responsible for the phenomenon.
Ellie Hall is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 6055 A264 DADD AADC 347E 5986 547C C11C DD7D 176A.
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