This article was originally published April 13, 2020. It has been updated to reflect more recent research.
The Vatican International Exhibition: The Eucharistic Miracles of the World catalogs the 100+ purported Eucharistic miracles that have been recorded and venerated since the earliest days of the Church to the present. The exhibit tours the world, drawing attention to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
When we think about Eucharistic miracles, we may be tempted to think that most of them are unsubstantiated stories that only happened in the “old days” and couldn’t happen today in our age of science.
The last few decades, however, have seen a surge in Eucharistic miracles, which cannot be explained by science. And in most of these recent miracles, the Eucharist turns into human flesh and blood.
The consistency among the scientific results is startling. Let’s begin with the oldest-known verifiable case of the Eucharist transforming into physical flesh and blood—the Miracle of Lanciano, which took place in 750AD and underwent testing in the 1970s. The facts of this case are stunning.
The Most Remarkable Miracle of the Middle Ages
In 750AD, a priest experienced a terrible temptation to doubt the True Presence while He was saying Mass. As he pronounced the words of consecration, the host and the wine transformed into what appeared to be flesh and blood.
In 1970, more than 1,200 years later, the archbishop of Lanciano, with Rome’s approval, requested a thorough scientific examination of the miraculous relics by Dr. Edward Linoli, director of the hospital at Arezzo and professor of anatomy, histology, chemistry, and clinical microscopy. His report, submitted on March 4, 1971, detailed the following results:
- The coagulated substance is human blood, AB blood type, with the same protein distribution as found in normal, fresh blood
- The host is human muscular striated tissue of the myocardium, left ventricle (heart); arteries, veins, branch of vagus nerve, and adipose tissue all can be identified
- Like the blood, the flesh is also fresh, living tissue, because it “responded rapidly to all the clinical reactions distinctive of living beings” as if the flesh and blood samples had been taken that day
- Histological tests revealed no sign of preservation techniques of any kind
The Miracles in the Age of Science
Until the 1990s, Lanciano was the only proven case of the Eucharist turning into human flesh. Other cases have not been tested with modern scientific equipment, nor have the many dozens of bloodstains on corporals and chalices that have been preserved and are venerated as having come from bleeding hosts. But in 1992, the miracles started happening again.
1992 and 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina: In 1992, consecrated particles left on the corporal were put into water to dissolve and locked in the tabernacle, as the Church prescribes for disposing of consecrated hosts. One week later, they had changed into a red substance. Then again in 1996 after a consecrated host fell to the ground and was also put in water to dissolve, it was found a few days later to have turned into a bloody substance. Both cases were sent to be tested by the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who was none other than our future Pope Francis.
2006, Tixtla, Mexico: During a retreat, a religious sister who was distributing Communion looked down and noticed that one of the Hosts had begun to bleed and transform.
2008, Sokolka, Poland: A consecrated Host fell to the ground during Communion and was put in water and locked in a tabernacle to dissolve. A week later, most of the Host was dissolved except for a red “clot” that remained.
2013, Legnica, Poland: A consecrated Host fell and was put in water and locked in a tabernacle. Two weeks later a red spot covered one-fifth of the undissolved Host.
Startling Scientific Results
Each of these occurrences received intensive study with highly advanced technology. In several cases, doctors did not know the source of the material. And yet, in all the cases, the same results were found, and are consistent with the results of Lanciano, providing even more details due to more advanced science:
- The blood is human, AB blood type; human DNA was found; white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, and mycrophages were present, indicating fresh blood; in the Tixtla miracle, the blood clearly emanated from within, because the blood on the surface had begun to coagulate but the interior blood was still fresh, as with a bleeding wound
- The flesh is human myocardium tissue of the left ventricle of an inflamed heart; in the miracles from Argentina and Poland, there was evidence of trauma from the presence of thrombi, indicating repeated lack of oxygen; lesions present showed rapid cardiac spasms typical in the final phases of death
- In the Sokolka miracle, the remaining host is tightly interconnected with the fibers of human tissue, penetrating each other inseparably – as if the bread were transforming into flesh. “Even NASA scientists, who have at their disposal the most modern analytical techniques, would not be able to artificially recreate such a thing,” affirmed Dr. Sobaniec-Lotowska, one of the examining experts.
Dr. Frederick Zugibe, a forensic doctor at Columbia University who examined the Argentinian miracle, did not know the source of the sample and told the doctor who brought it to him, “If white blood cells were present (in the heart tissue), it is because at the moment you brought me the sample, it was pulsating.” When he learned the source of the sample, he was shocked and deeply moved.
Why has the Lord suddenly multiplied Eucharistic miracles in the last few decades? Are we, like Doubting Thomas, refusing to believe unless we see, touch, and feel for ourselves? Jesus in his love for Thomas condescended to let him see, touch, and feel his wounds in order to believe. Perhaps he is now doing the same for us.
So many young people have rejected religion as “unscientific.” So here’s the science to prove our faith. Others say they don’t believe in religion because it’s just opinion or contrary to “reason.” Here’s quantifiable, measurable, physical evidence.
But more is going on here. The Church teaches:
“in the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’”CCC 1374
It’s as if Jesus, by transforming into a human heart, is crying out to us, “I’m here! I love you! My heart yearns for you! Was not my crucifixion enough to prove my love for you? See, then, and believe. I have remained hidden in the Eucharist for these two thousand years that I may remain close to you. Please, approach me. Receive me. Quench my thirst for your love.”
How Shall We Respond to This Plea from Heaven?
If our Lord has condescended to make himself so evident to us in order to be heard above the noise of our modern world, gratitude alone should impel us to respond. In the words of St. Gemma Galgani:
“Let us go to Jesus. He is all alone and hardly anyone thinks of him. Poor Jesus.”
Go to confession. Receive him in Communion. Spend time in Adoration. Learn more about the Mass and the Eucharist so that you may appreciate him more. On the Cross, Jesus cried out, “I thirst.” As many saints have told us, it was not water he was thirsting for—it was you. Quench his thirst.
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Jeannette Williams is the part-time communications coordinator of St. Jude Church and Shrine in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and a freelance writer and blogger. The mother of six, she homeschooled the first five through high school in the classical tradition, while the youngest now attends a new classical high school, Martin Saints, in Oreland, Pennsylvania. Jeannette’s greatest passion, besides her family, is to study the Catholic Faith and share it with others. When she’s not writing, Jeannette enjoys studying Spanish and Japanese, gardening, and spending time with her husband and children.