CHICAGO -- The Rev. Nicholas Jonas says he was in disbelief when he saw tears streaming down the face of a painting of Mary holding the child Jesus in his chapel.
"When these things happen, I feel like a little kid when first going into a candy factory, and you're just in awe," said Jonas, the presiding priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, in the Belmont Central neighborhood on the city's Northwest Side.
Jonas said he was sitting in his office Sunday morning when a church employee burst into his office and informed him of the "weeping Virgin."
Jonas hurried to the altar in the church sanctuary where the painting stands amid other holy paintings.
"It's common throughout the Orthodox church to see a phenomena like that ... but to have it personally was very overwhelming," Jonas said.
After examining the tears, Jonas placed cotton balls at the bottom of the picture to absorb the streaks of moisture and posted a photo of the weeping Virgin on Facebook Sunday evening.
By Monday morning, the word had spread. Parishioners and visitors came out in large numbers to see what many of them are calling a miracle.
The Rev. Dobrivoje Milunovic, the presiding priest of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in the O'Hare neighborhood, was one of the first priests to visit to venerate the icon.
Dressed in a black cassock, Milunovic said the weeping icon was a miracle, but also a warning from the mother of God.
"This is a calling on all of us to change our lives," he said. "We need to turn to her in prayer and humility. And cleanse our hearts and souls of inequities so we may find salvation.