KOTA KINABALU - The owner of the "weeping" Mother Mary statue in Penampang has decided to keep the figurine and build a grotto or shrine for it.
Visitors from as far as Germany have been visiting the house of Michael George in Kampung Mahandoi to pray in front of the statue.
Some visitors arrive as early as 7.30am, he said.
"To me, the weeping statue of Mother Mary is a miracle and a gift to my family. That's why I decided that it should be kept with us in the house," said Michael, who had previously considered handing the statue over to the church for safekeeping.
He said he would be constructing a grotto for the statue within the compound of his house, which is located on small hill at the village.
"Several people have already volunteered to help us build the grotto. I am still deciding on the exact location," said Michael.
He said he was mindful of the advice by Catholic priest Father Alex Jimsy Jolius about dealing with the crowd visiting the statue.
"We think that placing the statue in a grotto will enable visitors to pray in front of it while my family will get back our privacy," he added.
At present, he said there was a constant flow of people throughout the day, adding that his family had to welcome them at all hours.
"It starts early in the morning until late at night. Fortunately, besides my children, my parents are helping to look after the house when the visitors come," said Michael.
Hundreds of people have stopped by Michael's house to see and pray in front of the 33cm high status after word got around via social media that the family had noticed it shedding liquid droplets.
His sister-in-law had bought the statue in the Philippines and it began "shedding tears" a day after it was blessed by Archbishop John Wong of the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese.