It’s time to talk miracles this Christmas season. Born of the Virgin Mary, son of God, Christ in himself is a miracle, but one of the most fascinating aspects of our faith are the modern miracles that take place here and now and are scientifically and rigorously verified by the Vatican for all the skeptics in the room. There are lots of different types of miracles, some more common than others, but a seemingly appropriate one for the weekend after Thanksgiving is an example of a Eucharistic miracle. Jesus is the ultimate spiritual nourishment, a perfect and necessary balance for the perhaps over-indulging of corporal nourishment from last Thursday.
While a true miracle occurs during every Mass as the bread and wine sacramentally become the Body and Blood of Christ, the term “Eucharistic miracles” generally refers to a special sign of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, normally bleeding hosts or the transformation of a host into a piece of human heart tissue. Yet, they are quite difficult to verify scientifically.
But on the evening of August 18, 1996, a parishioner approached her parish priest, Fr. Alejandro Pezet, about a consecrated host that had been desecrated and left on a candle holder at the back of the church. Father Pezet was unable to consume the host and so placed it into a glass of water in the tabernacle to dissolve (customary handling of such a host). When he opened the tabernacle a week later, Fr. Pezet discovered that not only had the host not dissolved, it seemed to have become a piece of bloody tissue much larger than the original host.
Fr. Pezet informed his archbishop of this occurrence (then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis), who asked that Fr. Pezet have the host professionally photographed. This was done on September 6, 1996, and the host was kept in the tabernacle without publicizing the event. The host-turned-bloody tissue did not degrade for over three years while it was kept in that tabernacle, with no special effort made to preserve it.
In 1999, a sample of the bloody fragment was sent for scientific analysis, which revealed two important things: the tissue was from the left ventricle of the heart muscle, which pumps blood to the entire body; and the heart muscle from which the sample was taken was inflamed, containing many white blood cells (responsible for fighting infection). White blood cells are only present in tissue taken from living beings, and cannot survive without a living organism to sustain them. Thus, the sample must have been taken from the heart of a living human being.
The tissue was taken from a living heart — this could not have been fraud. The blood type, AB+, matches that of the blood on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo. It comes from the most critical part of the heart muscle; the left ventricle is responsible for pumping blood throughout the entire body. How did this sample survive three years of no special preservation? How did the piece of tissue come to be in that tabernacle in the first place?
It’s just a miracle.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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