Today was a travel day from San Giovanni Rotondo to our home the next few nights, Assisi. On the way we stopped in the town of Lanciano to visit what is probably the most famous Eucharistic miracle in the history of the Church. As Catholics know, when a validly ordained priest says the words of institution (This is my body; this is my blood) over ordinary bread and wine, they become truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This of course is the greatest miracle we can experience on earth. By God’s design, normally only the substance, the reality, of the bread and wine change, while the outward appearances and properties remain unchanged.
Monstrance Containing the Miracle
As I said, it is “normally” the case that the Eucharist continues to look like bread and wine. However, there have been a number of times in history when God has allowed not only the substance of the bread and wine to change at the Mass, but also the outward appearances. This is what we mean by a Eucharistic Miracle. Such a miracle took place in the 8th century in Lanciano when a priest celebrating Mass began to have doubts about whether the Eucharist was truly the body and blood of Jesus. As a gift to help his faith, God allowed the appearances of the bread and wine to change at the moment in the Mass when the priest consecrated them.
The Host Become Heart Tissue
To the amazement of the priest and all those present, the host in his hand turned into a piece of living flesh, later found to be human heart tissue. The wine in the chalice became living human blood. The elements from that Mass have remained without preservatives of any kind to the present day. Modern scientific tests revealed the following facts:
- The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood.
- The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
- The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.
- In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium.
- The Flesh is a “HEART” complete in its essential structure.
- The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood-type: AB (Blood-type identical to that which Prof. Baima Bollone uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin).
- In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
- In the Blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
- The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
The Wine Become Blood
I first learned about the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano when I was in college. A teacher gave me a picture of it. When I went to work after graduating, I kept this picture on my desk. It was sort of what you might call a “Eucharist trap,” knowing that people would often come by my desk, see the picture, and inevitably ask, “So, what’s in the picture?” Thus opened a nice opportunity to talk about the Eucharist and why everyone should be Catholic!
My Desk at Sprint
We were blessed in that we got to spend our holy hour today in the church where the Eucharistic miracle is kept. With Jesus on the altar sacramentally present in the Eucharist, and the miracle reserved behind the altar, we were in a pretty special place. Although, both times that I’ve been here, I have to say that it also made me very much aware that Jesus is always present in the Eucharist. It’s nice to see that God allows miracles every now and then, but I came away again with the peaceful reassurance that I get to see Jesus every day in the Eucharist and that, in itself, is an amazing miracle. Lanciano is nice, but it really just reminded me that I guess I don’t really doubt the truth of what happens at Mass.
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