Every time Mass is celebrated, a miracle is performed right before our eyes. The host is transformed into real flesh and the wine into real blood. While faith in what we do not see is essential, sometimes we need a little help. So here are some stories that might do just that.
One Sunday in 1263, a German priest, Peter of Prague, was celebrating Mass above the tomb of St. Christina in the town of Bolsena, Italy. When he raised the host, blood started to trickle over his hands and onto the altar. A year later, after investigation and authentication, the miracle was confirmed, and it moved Pope Urban IV to institute the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. The white, blood-stained linen corporal cloth can still be seen in the Orvieto Cathedral north of Rome. Five hundred years earlier, while a priest was celebrating Mass in Lanciano, Italy, the host changed shape and began to look like real flesh, and the wine took on the attributes of real blood. After repeated and thorough investigations, the Church concluded that the transformed substances were indeed human flesh and human blood. Later scientific studies have revealed that the flesh consists of muscular tissue from a human heart, and the blood has the same type—AB—as the blood on the Shroud of Turin. What’s more, the blood contains proteins in the same normal proportions that are found in “fresh” human blood.
Even though this miracle occurred 1300 years ago, you can still see the flesh in a monstrance and the blood in a glass chalice every day at the Sanctuary of the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano. Today, as we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, let’s thank Jesus for this great and wonderful gift—his Body and his Blood.