My Flesh Indeed
It may help us to know that doubt, false belief and misunderstanding have always been present among the faithful. Fortunately for us, our God is one of infinite wisdom, mercy and patience. As if his gift of Eucharist were not enough, he has seen fit at various times in history to make his presence known in visible, tangible and indisputable ways. These special occasions, given out of love for us and concern for our salvation are referred to as Eucharistic miracles.
Eucharistic miracles defy science and human logic. They may involve Hosts that bleed or turn to human flesh, levitate or survive impossible fires. They might consist of consecrated “wine” that becomes visibly coagulated blood; manifestations of the image of Christ; or the mystifying reverent behavior of animals. These miracles have occurred to chastise unbelieving priests or people committing sacrilegious acts against the Blessed Sacrament as well as to show victory for the just and upright, which is why Eucharistic phenomena is often found in connection with the Saints.
There are over 100 documented cases of Eucharistic miracles that the Church has authenticated. Many of these transformed Hosts and bloodstained altar linens are publicly displayed in ornate monstrances and altar encasements in chapels and cathedrals throughout Europe. Without the use of preservatives or hermetically sealed containers, Flesh and Blood retain their original properties for the faithful to venerate century after century. Modern scientific tests on these sacred relics clearly indicate human flesh and human blood, but they are less clear in explaining how this can be. For believers, it is not so much of a mystery: with God, all things are possible.
If, like the skeptical apostle Thomas, you need to see the proof with your own eyes, there are pilgrimages that can take you there. Visit Lanciano, Italy, which translated means “the lance.” This was the birthplace of Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced the heart of Christ at Calvary and later experienced a conversion. A Eucharistic miracle occurred in Lanciano in a Basilian monastery in the year 700. A priest-monk having doubts about the actual transformation of bread and wine into Body and Blood had the elements visibly transform in his hands at the moment of consecration. Studies as recent as 1970 indicate that the Flesh is that of a human heart muscle and both the Flesh and Blood are type AB. This miracle has been publicly displayed for 1300 years (see photo above).
In Orvieto, also in Italy, there is a reliquary containing another Eucharistic miracle that took place in the year 1263 in nearby Bolsena. It also involved a priest, Peter of Prague, lacking faith in what transpired at Consecration. This time the Host bled profusely, onto the corporal below. When Pope Urban IV saw the bloodstained cloth, he was prompted to institute the feast of Corpus Christi, in honor of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Some Eucharistic miracles involved lay people. In Paris, France, in 1290, a woman was so poor she had to pawn her only dress for food to eat. As Easter Sunday approached, she asked the pawnbroker for the use of her dress for just one day, since she had no money to purchase it. The pawnbroker agreed only if she would bring him the Blessed Sacrament. The woman reluctantly complied, secretly removing the Host from her mouth and delivering it to the pawnbroker’s shop. When the pawnbroker repeatedly stabbed the Host, it spewed blood profusely. When thrown in the fire, it danced unharmed in the flames. When submerged in boiling water, it made the kettle boil over red liquid in such quantity that it streamed out the door. A female passerby spotted the red liquid and entered the house to see Jesus standing by the kettle before he resumed the form of the Host. The woman carefully collected the Host in a nearby vase and brought it to the church where it is revered to this day.