Eucharistic miracles reveal Christ’s real presence

Moira Cullings

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ walked the earth, performed miracles and was eventually crucified, offering up his life for the salvation of souls.

Jesus had a body just like us. And it’s possible we know his blood type.

The Church teaches and has taught since the time of Christ that something miraculous happens at every Mass.  When the priest offers the bread and wine during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, something called transubstantiation takes place — the bread and wince become the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Though they look like normal bread and wine, Christ is in fact present in every morsel of bread and every drop of wine.

But sometimes the appearance of the bread and wine change, too. Christ’s true presence has been revealed over the centuries through several Eucharistic miracles.

As the Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi on May 31, in which we celebrate the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, our faith in the mystery of the sacrament is not in vain.

Lanciano

One of the most famous miracles took place in Lanciano, Italy during the eighth century, when a priest was doubting the real presence during Mass. As he consecrated the bread and wine, the bread began to bleed, literally turning into flesh and the wine into blood.

Soon after, the blood coagulated into five globules, and the flesh remained unchanged.

In 1971, Pope Paul VI permitted scientific studies be done on the relics — which still remained unchanged after centuries — and scientists discovered the flesh has the structure of the myocardium and endocardium.

The blood is human and type AB.

Buenos Aires

Three Eucharistic miracles occurred in Buenos Aires during the 1990s. In 1996, then-Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) was auxiliary bishop when a consecrated Host was found on the floor and soon after placed in water.

A few days later, the Eucharist had turned into bloody flesh. When the flesh remained unchanged years later, it was taken for sampling, and those who tested it weren’t told what it was or where it came from.

The findings revealed the sample was part of a heart muscle, specifically from the myocardium of the left ventricle. The blood was discovered to have human DNA and the AB blood type. Further study found the heart had been tortured, and the samples were even pulsating while they were studied.

Other Miracles

Not all Eucharistic miracles consist of the Host turning into flesh and blood. A more unusual miracle occurred in Bordeaux, France in 1822, when witnesses claimed they saw an apparition of Jesus giving a blessing during adoration.

And in Trivandrum, India in 2001, the pastor at the time exposed the Eucharist in a monstrance for adoration. Shortly after, three dots appeared on the Host.

A week later, the priest looked inside the tabernacle to see what happened to the Host, when he and those present noticed a figure that looked like a human face, and the image grew clearer as time went on.

The priest then read a passage from the day’s readings, and it happened to be from John 20 when Jesus appears to Thomas, showing him his wounds.

Like the apostle Thomas, we sometimes long for substantial proof of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. It’s easy to doubt such an extraordinary event could take place. Let these miracles revamp your trust in Jesus on the upcoming feast of Corpus Christi and beyond.

COMING UP: Nothing about us without us

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The slogan “Nothing about us without us” was used by Solidarity in the 1980s in Poland, borrowing a royal motto from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-second millennium. Then, it was expressed in Latin: Nihil de nobis sine nobis. Later, it appeared in Polish on the banners of 19th-century Poles fighting their country’s partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austria: Nic o Nas bez Nas. Today, it’s often used by disability activists asserting their claim to be fully participant in society.

“Nothing about us without us” also applies to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which will meet in Rome in October.

That Synod will involve seven bishops’ conferences from nine Latin American countries who will consider their pastoral situation under the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.” As is usually the case in these meetings, the bishops at the Synod will work with materials drafted in Rome. Early indicators from the Synod’s preparatory document suggest that the Amazonian Synod will be longer on environmentalism than on theology. International media attention will doubtless focus on the Synod’s discussion of climate change and its relationship to Amazonian deforestation.

Recent synodal history suggests, however, that more will be afoot at the Amazonian Synod than what its announced theme suggests.

The 2014 and 2015 Synods were called to consider the crisis of marriage and the family throughout the world. Yet they became the occasion for powerful churchmen to try to deconstruct Catholic moral theology and sacramental discipline, according to the tried-and-failed theologies and pastoral practices of the 1970s. The 2018 Synod, summoned to discuss youth ministry and vocational discernment, began with an effort by the Synod general secretariat to enshrine the world’s language of sexual plasticity (and the lame understandings of happiness that underwrite that language) into an official Church document. When that failed, Synod-2018 became the occasion for the Synod general secretariat to promote an ill-defined notion of “synodality” that struck more than a few bishops present as a prescription for local-option, choose-your-own-doctrine Catholicism on the model of the (imploding) Anglican Communion.

This pattern seems likely to continue at the Amazonian Synod. There, the deeper agenda will be the ordination of mature married men — viri probati — to the priesthood. Proponents will argue that this dramatic change in the Church’s longstanding tradition of a celibate priesthood (which, contrary to much misinformation, antedates the early Middle Ages by hundreds of years) is necessary because Amazonia is a Catholic area deprived of the Eucharist by a lack of priests. One hopes that the counterclaims — that Amazonia is mission territory requiring wholesale evangelization, and that Amazonia’s lack of priests reflects racial and class divisions in Latin American Catholicism that discourage priests of European pedigree from working with indigenous peoples — get a serious hearing.

Proponents of ordaining viri probati in Amazonia, including retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, have insisted that any such concession there would have no implications for the universal Church. That cannot be, however. Should the Amazonian Synod request the Pope to grant a dispensation from the discipline of celibacy for that region, and should he grant it, it will be just a matter of time before bishops conferences elsewhere — Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria come immediately to mind — make similar requests, citing pressing pastoral needs. On what ground would those requests be denied?

In a year-end interview with Vatican News, the Synod’s general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, insisted that the Amazonian Synod would not discuss environmental issues only, but would also confront “ecclesial themes” — and would do so in a way that Amazonia could be “a model for the whole world.”

We can be grateful to the cardinal for his candor in, however unintentionally, letting the celibacy cat out of the synodal bag. Any decision to ordain viri probati in Amazonia would inevitably have major consequences for the entire Church. A decision of this magnitude cannot be taken by an unrepresentative segment of the Church and then turned into a “model” for everyone else.

That is why the principle of “Nothing about us without us” must apply here. Whatever else “synodality” may mean, it surely must mean that decisions bearing on everyone should involve as broad a consultation and as global a reflection as possible. Bishops who agree should make their concerns known now, not after the Amazonian synod meets.

Featured image by Vatican Media | CNA