A STATUE of the Virgin Mary in Argentina has apparently cried 'tears of blood' - with believers flocking to witness what some are calling a 'miracle'.

The small gold-painted statue known as the Virgin of the Mystic Rose in the Argentinian town of San Jose de Metan has been filmed with red liquid streaming down its face.

Some locals claim the icon is 'weeping' over a push to relax the Catholic country's strict abortion laws.

The owner of the statue claims it has cried before - but there is now 'evidence' after the bizarre phenomenon was captured on camera.

The footage shows the face of the statue with what appears to be a blood red liquid running down both cheeks.

The statue was originally located in a home in the small town in the north-western Argentinian province of Salta but has been moved to the church.

Owner Frias Mendoza says he has witnessed tears - sometimes made of crystals, others a blood-like red liquid - on the face of the statue several times in the last year.

And Mr Mendoza claims that he was visited in a dream by the Virgin Mary the night before he first witnessed the "miracle".

He said: "I thought it was some kind of punishment and was scared."

The 50 cm (20 ins) high statue was moved to the local church after the family started receiving so many visitors that their living room had become a shrine.

Local people have been divided over the claims.

Some say the Virgin is crying over government proposals to liberalise Argentina’s strict abortion laws.

On Thursday Argentina’s Senate narrowly rejected a bill to legalise abortion in a fiercely contested debate that gripped the South American country with thousands gathering outside the government building as the arguments raged into the early hours.

But in the end the bill was defeated by 38 to 31 with two abstentions.

But others are not convinced.

One sceptical online commentator joked: "The local parish priest must have done a degree in marketing."

Weeping virgins have been a phenomenon around the world for many years.

Recently in the US state of New Mexico, a seven foot bronze statue of the Virgin was said to have wept tears of olive oil.

The church says it always looks for a scientific explanation before a supernatural one.

So far in San Jose de Metas no scientific explanation has been forthcoming.