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THE REAL PRESENCE The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

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Other Eucharistic Miracles

—Martin Herbert


There are many extraordinary, as well as thoroughly authenticated miracles connected with the Eucharist. It is as if God was periodically reaffirming or substantiating anew to those of little faith, "indeed it is the Lord" we are dealing with. Some miracles are connected with a lack of faith in the Real Presence (Lanciano). Others follow an incident in which the Blessed Sacrament has been profaned. And the third type is for no other purpose than to prove conclusively to an adamant nonbeliever how pitiful human reason is in the presence of the supernatural.

Perhaps the best known miracle in which there was a lack of faith in the Real Presence was the miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto. A Bohemian priest by the name of Peter of Prague was tempted into questioning the Real Presence. When he broke the Host after the Consecration he was stunned to see blood flowing from it and dripping onto the corporal (the square piece of linen on which the Host and chalice are placed during Mass). The bloodstained corporal was taken to the Cathedral of Orvieto where it is preserved to this day. It was as a result of this great miracle that the Pope commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to write the Mass of the "Body of Christ" (Corpus Christi). Pope Paul VI in our own day visited the famous shrine in August of 1964 for the anniversary of the Miracle of Orvieto.

It seems like most of the miracles regarding the Real Presence involve outrages committed against this Sacrament of God's infinite love. To name but a few, there was Slavings, Moravia in 1120; the little town of Excelles near the border of France and Italy in 1453; Orthez in the Upper Pyrenees in 1845, and Santarem, Portugal several centuries ago. All of these extend to many countries and over many centuries.

The Eucharistic Prodigy of Siena is outstanding, however, as it is a continuous miracle. On August 14, 1730 the yearly procession in honor of Our Lady's Assumption was taking place in Siena. Practically the whole town turned out for the feast leaving the Church of St. Francis unattended. At the same time the town's people were occupied in honoring the Queen of Heaven thieves desecrated her Son present in the Eucharist by stealing a large ciborium full of consecrated hosts.

When the theft was discovered the people were shocked and went into mourning. They prayed for pardon for this terrible sacrilege and begged God for light on how to recover the Sacred particles. Their petitions were heard. Within three days the hosts were found. On the morning of the 17th a choir boy in the Church of Holy Mary in Provenzano, near the Church of St. Francis, noticed something white in the alms box. There among the dust and cobwebs were the Sacred Particles. The Archbishop himself carefully cleaned and counted them, one by one. There were 351 Sacred Hosts that were brought back with great solemnity to the Church of St. Francis.

But this was not the end; it was the beginning of a tremendous Eucharistic prodigy that is still going on. The Conventual Franciscan friars who now had the hosts restored to their church could not consume them as there was a continuous procession of people from Siena who came to adore the Sacred Particles day after day. It soon became evident that contrary to natural conditions the Particles remained in their original freshness. From time to time, over the centuries, the Sacred Particles were received in Holy Communion, so that now there are only 223 Particles remaining. But these are still in a state of perfect preservation.

During the 13th century St. Anthony of Padua was reported to have converted a hardened heretic through a rather unique contest. The heretic, by the name of Bononillo, was unmoved by the reasoning of the "hammer of heretics," as St. Anthony was called. Bononillo was as stubborn as the mule that stood beside him.

Eyeing the mule, Anthony made an offer to Bononillo. He asked him whether he would give up his heresy if the mule were to bow down and adore its Creator present in the Blessed Sacrament. The heretic answered he would, provided he could lay down certain conditions: for two days the mule was not to be fed, and on the third day it was to be led into the public square. On one side of the square would be placed a tempting pile of fresh feed, on the opposite side Anthony could stand with what Bononillo contemptuously called the "body of Christ." Anthony agreed, but in all humility made one condition. If the animal did not kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, his sins alone were to be blamed.

The day arrived for this strange contest and the square was crowded with people. When the derisive Bononillo arrived with his half-starved mule, he was fully confident that his mule had sense and appetite enough to go after the feed. But he was wrong. Anthony had implored his Lord in the intervening two days for the soul of this heretic. God did not let his faithful servant down. When turned loose, the mule without the least hesitation advanced towards Anthony and knelt in an attitude of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. With much emotion and contrition the heretic too fell on his knees and gave up his heresy. As wonderful as these miracles are the greatest of all, transubstantiation, has to be viewed with the eyes of faith.



©1976 Immaculata Magazine
Reprinted with permission.





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