A bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of a Chicago church just days after a Virgin Mary painting began "weeping" in what many parishioners believed to be a "miracle."
Since Sunday, several people of all faiths have flocked to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Chicago's Northwest Side to see the painting.
The church is in debt and foreclosure and faced a pivotal hearing in bankruptcy court Tuesday.
There, a judge approved the sale of the church to Universal Church for $2.5 million. The sale will also include a school building, which is currently being rented by Chicago Public Schools. Classes there will not be affected by the sale.
"I'm sorry we couldn't save it," said David Herzog, an attorney for Holy Trinity. "It's a very important home for all of those parishioners and I know all of them have a very heavy heart because the church has significant meaning to them."
The news follows what many believed was a "sign" Sunday morning.
Rev. Nick Jonas wrote on Facebook that a church worker "ran in to tell me to come out."
"Our Icon of the Panagia is weeping!" he wrote, along with a photo of water appearing like tears from a Virgin Mary painting's eyes.
In wake of the financial troubles, church members called the sudden sight of Mary's tears a "miracle." Others now say it is a sign "that one chapter of the church's history is ending and another one is beginning."
"We were waiting for a sign," said Panagiota Fortsas, vice president of parish council. "We were praying for years for a sign and I personally received the sign that I was looking for. And I believe the Virgin Mary is with us and guiding us."
A parishioner told NBC 5 that he had heard about weeping icons, but had never seen one.
"It's truly amazing, and you kind of step back and reevaluate your entire attitude about a lot of things," he said.
No closing date has been set for Holy Trinity, but one is expected by November. That means, the Chicago staple and its valuable contents will likely have to find a new home by the end of the year.
"They need to remove the alter which is very, very important to the church as well as all the beautiful iconography that's located in the church," said Herzog.
Jonas said that even if the church is forced to move, they plan to continue their services at a different location and all donations made so far will be designated for that purpose.
"We are hopeful we will be able to relocate to a new location," Herzog said.