Catholic Classroom: Eucharistic Miracles
Yesterday the Church observed the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ; a liturgy that celebrates in a special way the doctrine of the Real Presence. Through Scripture and Tradition we know that the bread and wine consecrated at Holy Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Christ, even though their material appearance does not change. However, throughout history there have been numerous instances of consecrated hosts actually turning into physical flesh and blood. These Eucharistic miracles serve as powerful reminders that what we consume at Mass is really, truly, the body and blood of our Savior.
One of the earliest-known miracles occurred in Lanciano, Italy in the 8th century. A priest was having doubts about the validity of transubstantiation while celebrating Mass one day, and as he spoke the words of consecration, the bread turned into flesh and the wine coagulated into blood. Since then, numerous scientific studies performed on the relics have revealed that they are indeed real flesh and blood, both of the AB blood type. Further, the flesh is heart tissue, and neither the flesh nor the blood have decomposed over the centuries.
Another more recent miracle occurred in 1996 when a desecrated host began to bleed after being placed in a glass of water. Pope Francis, then Bishop Jorge Bergoglio, commissioned research on the alleged miracle, and the results showed that the flesh was human and was also of the AB blood group.
To learn about more recent Eucharistic miracles, the Diocese of Westminster has compiled an informative list which you can read here.
It’s important to acknowledge that while all of these miracles can be helpful aides to our faith, our belief in the Real Presence is not rooted in them. As Catholics, the Church does not require that we even believe in these miracles. Further, if a Eucharistic miracle were to be deemed inauthentic, it would not undermine the doctrine of the Real Presence. While faith does not rely on sight, our infinitely good God can perform miracles to help us on our faith journey. I encourage you to research these miracles and let them inspire you to receive the Eucharist more reverently and faithfully.