An arrogant knight in Seefeld, Austria in 1384 unintentionally left his mark in Eucharistic miracle history when he entered a church with his men and demanded by force that he receive the large Host. When the priest placed it in the knight’s mouth, it turned bright red. At the same moment, the knight’s legs suddenly sank knee-deep into the floor. Desperately, he clung to the altar with both hands, which also softened under his grip, and implored that the Host be removed from his mouth. Once it was, the knight freed himself and fled, and later confessed and converted. The imprints of his hands and feet as well as the preserved Host are fully intact.
Closer to our time, a Eucharistic miracle occurred in Stich, West Germany, in 1970. A visiting priest from Switzerland was celebrating Mass when he noticed one, then two red spots on the corporal. Not able to find a leak in the chalice or a source of moisture from beneath the cloth, he had the stains investigated. Tests proved the spots to be human blood of a man in agony. One month later, a second miracle occurred when the same priest visited again. This time at Consecration there were four spots of blood, each with a small cross inside it. These were examined by a different lab and were once again confirmed as human blood.
If a European pilgrimage is not likely in your future, travel the Internet instead. There are many sites that provide details and visuals of some the most famous Eucharistic miracles. Surfing the net, you’ll also discover that reports of Eucharistic miracles in the present day are occurring at an unprecedented rate. The Church will certainly have her hands full trying to investigate and authenticate each of these claims.
For further reading, two of the best references I have come across on historic Eucharistic phenomena are Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz (Tan Books) and This Is My Body, This Is My Blood: Miracles of the Eucharist by Bob and Penny Lord (Journeys of Faith).
While Eucharistic miracles can be sensational and certainly a cause for conversion, it is important to keep in mind the words Jesus imparted to Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) We must never lose sight of the fact that every valid consecration at Mass is miraculous, regardless if we experience it only through the eyes of faith. The same God, the same omnipotent power, is present and available to all who receive worthily.
Through the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit, at the moment of Consecration bread and wine are changed. Once we realize that, our next task is to accept that we must change, too. The sacrifice of the Mass is a call to action: it commissions us to carry out Christ’s mission here on earth. Holy Communion gives us the strength to accomplish this goal. With the fortification of the Eucharist we, like Jesus, can announce the good news in word and deed by pouring ourselves out for others. And that’s nothing short of miraculous.
Elizabeth Ficocelli is a Catholic author of fifteen books for adults and young people, a national speaker, and host of the radio program, “Answering the Call.” For more information, please visit www.elizabethficocelli.com
Published in Lay Witness Online, July/August 2004