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A Book Review… Pulling Back The Veil Between Heaven And Earth

August 21, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints, by Joan Carroll Cruz (TAN Books, 330 pages, Paperback and Kindle). Available at amazon.com.
This book deals with miracles involving the Eucharist and saintly figures. The text ranges from miracles occurring in the eighth century to those occurring in more recent times and has numerous black and white illustrations. Most of the miracles described here date from the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, that is from the ages of faith.
The book begins with an introduction outlining Catholic teaching on Holy Communion and emphasizes that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, that it causes an increase of sanctifying grace in the soul, and that communicants should not be in a state of mortal sin if they want to receive it worthily.
The first miracle dealt with in the book, that which occurred at Lanciano, is one of the most well-known Eucharistic miracles. The town takes its name from St. Longinus, who was reputedly the Roman soldier responsible for piercing the side of Christ with a lance when He was dead on the cross. A priest was saying Mass at a monastery in Lanciano but had doubts that at the words of consecration the bread and wine truly become Christ’s Body and Blood, which is the Catholic belief in Transubstantiation.
During Mass, just after he said those words, the Host became a circle of flesh, and the wine in the chalice became blood. The priest began to weep, and then joyfully called out to the congregation to come and witness the miracle which God had performed to confound his disbelief. The news of this great prodigy soon spread to the whole town. The Host of flesh was placed in an ivory reliquary, along with the blood in the chalice which by then had collected into five globules of unequal size.
Scientific tests were performed on the Host and blood in the 1970s and these showed that the Host was made up of human heart tissue and that the blood was type AB blood. Other investigations of similar miracles have also found this blood type present. There is no medical or scientific explanation as to how the Eucharistic elements at Lanciano could have been preserved now for over 1,200 years.
In 1263, another well-known Eucharistic miracle took place in Bolsena in Italy. As in the case of Lanciano, here, too, a priest doubted the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But on this occasion he had barely said the words of consecration when blood began to seep from the Host onto his hands and then onto the altar and corporal. The priest was taken to nearby Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was in residence. The Pope absolved the priest and then ordered an investigation. The holy Corporal, which is still stained with Blood, is enshrined in Orvieto Cathedral to this day.
The town of Siena, also in Italy, has seen two Eucharistic miracles, in 1330 and 1730. The first concerned a priest, who instead of placing a Host for a sick person in a pyx, put it between the pages of his breviary. When he opened it he found that the Host was bloody and almost melted.
The second miracle came about in 1730 when thieves broke into the church of St. Francis and stole a golden ciborium containing consecrated Hosts from the tabernacle. A couple of days later, Hosts were found in an offering box in a nearby church, and these turned out to be identical to the ones that had been stolen. They were taken back to the church of St. Francis, but because they were covered in dirt and debris it was decided to let them naturally decompose.
But instead of that happening the Hosts remained fresh. They have been subject to various investigations over the years, including scientific ones more recently, and remain miraculously preserved.
The common factor in all these Eucharistic miracles is the presence of some sort of doubt about the Eucharist, or lack of respect for it, or even sacrilege. It’s as if God, with His almighty power, uses such incidents as a way of ultimately increasing respect and veneration for the Holy Eucharist.
The lives of the saints are also replete with Eucharistic miracles, such as the occasion when St. Anthony (d. 1231) was confronted by an Albigensian heretic who denied the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated Host. It was decided that the issue would be proved one way or the other through the man’s mule. This animal was denied food for three days, and then brought before a great crowd. The man attempted to feed it oats and hay while St. Anthony held up a consecrated Host before the mule. It ignored the food but fell to its knees before the Blessed Sacrament. This miracle is said to have led to the conversion of many heretics.
More recently a Eucharistic miracle involving St. John Bosco (d. 1888) took place. This came about at a Mass for nearly 600 of the saint’s pupils because the sacristan failed to place a ciborium with sufficient hosts on the altar. When it came to the distribution of Holy Communion, the ciborium in the tabernacle only contained about twenty consecrated Hosts. St. John raised his eyes to Heaven, prayed for a moment and then carried on with the Mass.
To the amazement of the sacristan, who had by now realized his mistake, row after row of boys received the Eucharist, and at the end of the Mass a good number of Hosts were remaining in the ciborium.
The book has numerous other accounts of various Eucharistic miracles involving saints and holy persons, such as the story of Hermann Cohen, a famous German Jewish pianist, who, in 1847, had a conversion experience during Benediction in a church where he was conducting a choir. He felt obliged to fall to his knees before the Blessed Sacrament. He went to this church again soon after and experienced a similar interior movement. He said he felt as if a weight was being pressed on his back, requiring him to bend the knee once more. Against his will, he obeyed this impulse and then suddenly the thought rushed overwhelmingly into his head that he must become a Catholic.
The result was that he eventually became a priest and Carmelite friar, and went on to become a well-known and influential preacher, and one who greatly promoted Eucharistic adoration.

Increased Devotion

The book also recounts miraculous cures which have taken place during the Blessing of the Sick at shrines such as Lourdes; Eucharistic fasts, where saintly people have survived solely on the Eucharist, and raptures and ecstasies related to Holy Communion, in addition to many other aspects of the supernatural associated with the Eucharist.
To some extent we can take the Eucharist for granted — our Lord is there in our churches and we believe that by faith, but perhaps that faith is not as strong as it should be. Eucharistic Miracles helps us to realize that occasionally the veil separating Heaven and Earth is pulled back and Christ in the Eucharist is revealed in all His glory.
Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints is an inspiring book which will surely increase the devotion to, and reverence for, Holy Communion of any careful reader.

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(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people, and the third in the series is due to be published later this year — details can be seen at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk.)

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