The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

Courtesy of Wikipedia
'In the city of Lanciano, Italy, around 700, a Basilian hieromonk was assigned to celebrate Mass in the small church of St. Longinus. Celebrating in the Latin Rite and using unleavened bread, the monk had doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
During the Mass, when he said the Words of Consecration ("This is my body. This is my blood"), with doubt in his soul, the priest is said to have seen the bread change into living flesh and the wine change into live blood which coagulated into five globules, irregular and differing in shape and size (the number supposedly corresponds to the number of wounds Christ suffered on the cross: one in each hand and foot from the nails, and the wound from the centurion's spear).
Since 1574, various investigations of varying degrees of detail have been conducted upon the elements: 
1636 by Father Serafino from Scanno
October 23, 1777 by Bishop Gervasone
October 26, 1886 by Bishop Petrarca
1971, by Odoardo Linoli
According to Bob and Penny Lord, the first test in 1574 found that each of the five different "pellets of coagulated Blood", though varying in size, all weigh the same and always produced the same weight no matter how many are simultaneously weighed.
Linoli's examination
The examination in 1971 was performed by Odoardo Linoli, a professor in anatomy and pathological histology as well as chemistry and clinical microscopy,and Ruggero Bertelli, a professor of the University of Siena. The report was published in Quaderni Sclavo di Diagnostica Clinica e di Laboratori in 1973.
Linoli's conclusions
The following conclusions were drawn by Odoardo Linoli:
  • The flesh is real flesh and the blood is real blood
  • The flesh and the blood belong to the human species
  • The flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart
  • In the flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium. The flesh is a heart complete in its essential structure.
  • The flesh and the blood have the same blood type, AB
  • In the blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of fresh normal blood
  • In the blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium
  • Both the flesh and the blood showed no evidence of preservatives (or other added chemical agents of any kind) being used.

Current status
The Basilian monks kept custody of the elements until their departure in 1175. They were succeeded by Benedictine monks in 1176. The items were placed in different locations within the Church of St. Francis at Lanciano. They were kept in the Valsecca Chapel from 1636 until 1902 when they were relocated to a new altar. The elements can still be seen today. The flesh, which is the same size as the large host used in the Latin Church, is fibrous and light brown in color and becomes rose-colored when lighted from the back. The blood consists of five coagulated globules and has an earthly color resembling the yellow of ochre.

Now, I understand that such is 'private revelation' which happened to become incredibly public and is still open to the public, but are we really to believe that after such a miracle which has been verified by science to have no possible explanation but to be of divine origin, that this should have no bearing on how we understand the theology of the Eucharist and it is, quite simply, what the Lord said He would be for us.

My faith is simple, not particularly sophisticated so in no way would I like to go into a theological discussion with St Thomas Aquinas, who has corrected me, but the Angelic Doctor would say with Isaiah, 'Verily thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel the saviour.' 

It would be pride to persist in error in discussing the Eucharist in any manner other than that which the Church teaches and if I have committed some error in my understanding and explanation, then I duly apologise firstly to Father John, who according to the Angelic Doctor is correct in his criticism of my understanding of the Holy Eucharist and then to all others.

However, I really would like to ask the question:

Why would God reveal the Miracle at Lanciano to one who doubts the Real Presence, unless He was communicating a simple truth about the Eucharist that is so often overlooked or scorned - a truth more simple than the most complex theology - that He Who Was and Is, Is present in the Eucharist by such manner in which He said He would be, that is to say, not just truly but literally? 

What would that monk think having witnessed this?

"I see now that Christ is certainly not locally present and not physically present in the slightest?"


My personal understanding, erroneous as it may be, is that God would not provide the Church with such a Miracle unless He was communicating what Holy Communion truly, substantially and literally Is. It would not serve His people to receive a Eucharistic Miracle every time we received Holy Communion as we would, I believe, turn away in disgust. And so the Lord, at times, provides the Church with a reminder of what Holy Communion truly Is and that we receive what Holy Communion truly Is under the guise of bread and wine but its reality has changed even if, thank God, every sense would say otherwise. I say this from a personal understanding that God does not wish to confuse us. That said, my apologies to Fr John and to the Anglican chap who commented. I will amend the previous post later. If a Priest tells me Christ is truly and substantially present in the Eucharist but then says, 'It's certainly not physical and Jesus is not locally present', that that just makes me, a simpleton, say, 'You what?'

May God have mercy on me and enable me to do penance so that when I die, I am not greeted by those words that would cause one to shudder: "Laurence! You believed in My Real Presence too much and to an exaggerated degree which is unhealthy! I was not half as present as you thought I was!"


Fr John said…
I see your latest post Laurence and many thanks and enormous kudos for acknowledging your genuine misunderstanding. can I respectfully offer the following reflections:
- If I have taken an oppositional tone in the past then I apologise but it is truly born from frustration of being taken out of context and having the meaning of, or my actual words distorted.
- Is there not frequently a knee jerk reaction to condemn different understandings or expressions of understandings as wrong or in many cases heresy etc? The only persons in the church with the authority to define and declare such opinions are the Bishops, Synod / Councils and Popes so we should be cautious to do so because there is a danger of alienating genuine Catholics/Christians.
- In my experiences, many cases of conflict in the blogosphere are driven by incorrect interpretations of orthodox church doctrine (usually) by 'traditionalists'. I do not say this to be inflammatory but it's my honest observation.
- There needs to be much greater recognition that church doctrine is theologically complex and non-theologians may have limited grasp of the complex issues which easily lead to misunderstanding.
- I would suggest that what happened here is a micro reflection of the reformation! The popular conception by some poorly educated catholics wrongly insisted in over-emphasising aspects of the doctrine (ie physical presence) which were doctrinally unsound and unfortunately led to protestant resistance. There is a need to recognise that there is less disagreement about the core aspects of the doctrine and regret about what happened (on both sides) if we are to achieve the unity that Christ wills ie charity. In fact there is substantial agreement about the nature of the Eucharist for which we should be grateful for.
- being overly quick to condemn without first engaging in dialogue inflicts injury and damage to the body of Christ.
- do you not think it is concerning that someone who is a convert but obviously very committed as a catholic can have such a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the central doctrines of the church? out of interest, where did you do RCIA?

Many blessings to you. I hope you will allow me to continue to engage in respectful dialogue on your blog but I do find it offensive when some of the commentators jump in accusing me of being a heretic priest which I truly am not. I'm all for open debate but would suggest that greater monitoring of comments would be helpful to prevent things getting out of hand.
Left-footer said…
Thank you for this. Your last paragraph is brilliant.

God bless!
The Bones said…
My concern is, Father, that priests and Bishops wish to underplay the Eucharistic presence of the Lord Jesus Christ because...

Well, they all have their own reasons.

The presence of Christ is Real, as defined by the Church, it is substantially changed. It IS the Body and Blood of Christ. It is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Eucharist is the Lord.

A child can walk into a Catholic Church, as can an adult and point to the Tabernacle and say, 'There! There is Jesus Christ!'

That anyone should want to limit or curtail the Real Presence, to knock down faith, to curtail Eucharistic adoration is disturbing.

Therefore, a person can be technically right, and yet dreadfully wrong because you can never adore Jesus too much, nor love Him, too much, nor worship Him too much, nor praise Him, too much in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.

You say you 'need not' double genuflect according to some prescribed law. I say, those who know that Jesus is Lord and those who know He is their life do so out of respect and LOVE!
Page 276
Left-footer said…
To remove any misunderanding, my previous comment was addressed to L.E., and not Father John.

I too am a convert, but received private instruction from a Jesuit, thus avoiding RCIA about which I have had mixed reports.

I understood and believe that at the moment of Consecration, the bread and wine cease to exist and are replaced by Jesus.

This was too much for our (later) Parish Priest who was fond of quoting protestant theologians in his homilies.
Fr John said…
No problem with anyone single or double genuflecting (I do so myself often out of habit) or triple genuflecting or even only bowing (for medical or cultural reasons). All are signs of reverence. What I have an issue with is people judging and condemning others for their choice - or assuming that they do not accept / believe in the real presence. That is plainly unjust and offensive, I would suggest.
Anonymous said…
The doctrine of the Faith is not complex, nor esoteric - the truth rarely is. The Faith in its fullness is accessible to all of ordinary intellect and goodwill. The content of the Faith is such that if one is open to it, it resounds in one's soul, which is made for the glory of God through membership of His Holy Church.
Fr John said…
One last thing - I'm assuming you mean my last point re RCIA rather than my last paragraph.

My experience is that it's often (though not exclusively) converts of a traditional bent who misinterpret transubstantiation and that there is a lack of clarity clearly explaining the doctrine in traditionally learning parish programmes - they allow people to labour in their misunderstanding, if you will, because they feel that traditional piety is good. Generally there is a reluctance to clearly discuss the doctrine because it is a sensitive area and people are quick to loudly and publically condemn priests as being heretical if they do correct misunderstandings.

Personally I think there is a need for the church to clarify orthodox teaching around the real presence which is a significant factor in the misunderstandings and conflict between left / right wings of the church - just look at the many erroneous heated comments about the topic on this blog! Paul VI was reluctant to do so because the time was right but I feel it must be done and it will be a real break-through in inter-church relations and the greater unity we all seek.
viterbo said…
There's a book called, "Eucharistic Miracles: And Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints", by Joan Carroll Cruz - The story of 36 major Eucharistic Miracles from Lanciano, Italy in 800 to Stich, Bavaria in 1970. Details the official investigations. Tells where some are still venerated today. Covers Hosts that have bled, turned to flesh, levitated, etc.; plus, of Saints who have lived on the Eucharist alone.

But I guess it's read at your own peril, lest one becomes convinced that Christ meant His 'physical' presence would be with us to the close of the age.

p.s. with 'priests' like John and popes like 'frankie', and 'saints' like, jpii, who needs the 'Church' anymore since real means not real, and present means not present, and flesh means not flesh, and marriage means not marriage and penance means not penance and God means not Catholic God, and salvation not salvation since we are not in need of salvation, jews, greeks or otherwise etc.

In RCIA the priests at London Oratory were adament - Christ is really physically present - but that was a long time ago now, maybe the doctrine has changed

in the Greek the word for munch and chew as on meat, is used when He commands people to eat His flesh - but He must have, according to John and 'bread and wine' Frankie, and buddha on the altar jpie, meaning something completely obscure and relative.
Anonymous said…
Mr. Bones, Much as I like your blog, it has become too much about "Fr. John." If he had a blog, I would never read it. I do not believe he is a Catholic priest due to his critical, divisive, and sarcastic (the mocking "hehe") attitudes, and then whining like a spoiled adolescent when people are not patting him on the back. Good grief, grow up, John, and take it like a man. Bones, perhaps you could take a break from giving him attention??
Praised be Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar!
Fr John said : "do you not think it is concerning that someone who is a convert but obviously very committed as a catholic can have such a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the central doctrines of the church?"

Concerning, maybe, but not at all surprising, Fr. John. How many priests have a clear understanding of it or even try to teach it in depth? I have come across at least two who have referred to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as "bread gawping." These are the kind of experiences that induce an attitude of knee-jerk reaction when somebody appears to say something different.

Obviously, you are correct to make the distinction between "physical" presence and the Real Presence, which is present substantially. The Church has never taught the former. Unfortunately in modern parlance the terms "real" and "physical" tend to be used interchangeably in many walks of life which leads to the confusion we have seen.

Where I must confess to still having some confusion, though, is understanding the sense in which St Thomas teaches that the Body of Christ is not present locally in the sacrament. Is he simply saying that we should not think of the Body being present in that location occupied by the host in space alone, to the exclusion of all other places?

I would appreciate your further thoughts.
Anonymous said…
I love your blog Mr. Bones!

You are a Catholic after my own heart - seeing you love St. Alphonus I can say this as I love him too.

St. Alphonsus is my daily companion in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament .

Anonymous said…
Of course, Church-validated miracles of the Blessed Sacrament help to increase our faith in the Real Presence. It is God showing the senses what the Blessed Sacrament is.
Jacobi said…
We do go on, don’t we?

Forgive me if you have come across my favourite remark, alleged to have come from a Church of Scotland minister. He said that if Catholics believed even a fraction of what they say they do about the Real Presence, they would crawl into Church, (central tabernacles then), on their bellies.

Conclusion. That Church of Scotland minister had a better comprehension of the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation than probably 90% + of present day “Catholics”, have.

Such is our Catholic RE!
Anonymous said…
Amen. Our outward bodily actions ought to reflect and agree with and support the ultimate awe and reverence a soul has for God, strengthening one's love and reference and giving witness to others of same.