There are many alleged Eucharistic miracles -- that is, incidents in
which the Eucharist is said to bleed, to survive things like fire or
other phenomena that should have destroyed its accidents, to levitate,
to never corrupt, etc. But the
miracle that took place at Lanciano is one that has been deemed "worthy
of belief" and studied scientifically, so I must mention it
Lanciano is a town in Abruzzo, on the eastern side of Italy, near the
Adriatic Sea. There, in the 8th century, a Basilian priest was offering
Mass at the monastery of St. Longinus. He was experiencing a crisis of
faith, doubting the reality of the Eucharist, so God granted him a very
unusual and great grace: when he got to the words of consecration, the
transubstatiation that took place was more than one in which the
accidents of bread and wine remained; in this instance, the accidents
themselves transformed into biological flesh and blood. That is, the
bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ in a way that was
evident to the physical eyes. The bread became a mass of bloody tissue,
and the wine separated into five distinct globules, as if clotted (and
perhaps to memorialize the Five Wounds). In
1631, an anonymous writer put to paper what had been handed down to him
by tradition (and, perhaps, no longer extant documents):
He [the Basilian
priest] was so
confused and terrified by such a Stupendous Miracle that he stood
utterly dumbfounded as if by ecstasy for a long period; but eventually,
his fear gave way to the spiritual happiness that filled his soul, and
he turned his joyful yet tearful face to those around him and cried
out: "O fortunate friends to whom the Blessed Lord has deigned to
reveal himself in this Most Holy Sacrament and to make himself visible
before your eyes and to dispel my own unbelief.Come, brothers,
and gaze at our God drawn near us. Behold the
Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ".
At these words, all people hurried avidly to the altar with
deep devotion, and there upon witnessing the Miracle, they began to cry
out with tears for divine mercy.
As the news of such a rare and peculiar Miracle spread
through the city, who could describe the acts of piety that the great
and the small performed as they hurried to see the Wonder with their
own eyes: some cried out with devout voice for divine mercy; some beat
their breasts and confessed their guilt and sins; others with subdued
voices and sighs admitted their unworthiness to gaze upon such a
precious treasure; and others still, in a state of rapture and reverent
silence admired, marvelled, praised, and thanked the all-good God who
deigned to place before our mortal senses His immortal and
The incident was investigated by the Bishop at the time, and again in
Gaspar Rodríguez, who canonically recognized the event. Over the
centuries, the Franciscans came to be in charge of the
church (now known as the church of St. Francis) and, hence, the Body
and Blood, which where eventually housed in a silver
monstrance dating to 1713, and a 17th century crystal chalice,
respectively (see picture at the bottom of this page).
Then, between November of 1970, and March of 1971, the Body and Blood
subjected to the techniques of modern science. The results of the
studies -- performed by Dr. Edoardo Linoli, professor of anatomy and
pathological histology, and of chemistry and clinical microscopy, and
former head of the Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy at the Hospital
of Arezzo, assisted by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, retired professor of human
anatomy at the University of Siena -- were published in volume 7 of "Quaderni Sclavo di Diagnostica".
This is what they found.
The Flesh is mummified, round, 55-60 mm (2.37 inches) in diameter,
smooth on its surface, and yellowish-brown in color. It's thinner in
the middle, and torn there, retracting toward the periphery.
Because it's dried out, it's shrunken, but one can readily see that
hollow organ. Histologically, as determined by Lenzi's method, it's
been determined to be human cardiac tissue belonging to the AB blood
group.1 Specifically, it is "striated muscular tissue which
for its diffuse syncytial junctions among the fibres, appears to be of
myocardial origin, with arterial and venous vessels and two thin
branches of the vagal nerve.
This identification is made on the basis of the scattered orientation
of the fibers, their consistent end-to-end syncytial aggregation, the
presence of some transversal connections and the penetration of muscle
fibers within some interstitial adipose lobules; all these observations
are not compatible with the aspect of a skeletal muscular tissue.
Finally, the endocardial layer is visible, with 'rough hills' on the
cavity surface; in the subendocardial district, normal myocardial
tissue is visible."
The Blood is in five irregularly-shaped parts, weighing together 15.85
g. It, too, is yellowish-brown in color. Histological testing
determined that it is, indeed, Blood, that it is human, and that it,
too, is of the type AB -- the same blood type as the Flesh, and
precisely the same rare blood type that is found on the Shroud of Turin. 2
Protein levels were normal, calcium levels were high, and
chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sodium were low.
According to a May, 2005 Zenit article, 3
In 1973, the
Higher Council of the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed a
scientific commission to verify the Italian doctor’s conclusions. The
work was carried out over 15 months with a total of 500 examinations.
The conclusions of all the researches confirmed what had been stated
and published in Italy.
The extract of the scientific research of WHO’s medical
commission was published in New York and Geneva in 1976, confirming
science’s inability to explain the phenomenon.
Where the Body and
Blood are Located
You can visit the shrine where the Body and Blood are housed at:
Frati Minori Conventuali
66034 Lanciano (CH) Italy
Telephone: (0872) 713189
But know that the Body and Blood can be seen -- and received -- at any
Catholic Mass, at any Catholic Church, most any day of the week, by those who are properly disposed.
The Body and
Blood of Christ
Click to enlarge
1 Fr. Nicola Nasuti, OFM Conv., describes
the testing used thus in his "Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Historical, Theological, Scientific and Photographic Documentation":
histological study of the ancient Flesh in Lanciano Lenzi's method was
used, which is well adapted to mummified tissues.
Microtomic sections, (hardly obtained since the tissue was
extremely strong) were treated with eosine-emallume dyes, Mallory, Van
Gieson, dyes Ignesti's method for muscle tissue and Gomori's silver
For Blood, identification was tried on a small fragment of
tissue, according to the technique used for the Flesh. In addition
Teichmann's micro chemical reactions have been used after adaptation by
Bertrand with chloride-hematine, Takayama's test with hemochromogen,
Burton and Stone's test with orthotolidine used for oxidases, thin
layer chromatography of haemoglobin according to Franchini's technique,
modified for this specific test.
To find which species belong to the ancient Blood and Flesh
in Lanciano, very small fragments have been soaked into distilled water
with micro-potter. The zonal precipitation test by Uhlenhuth using the
eluition liquid has been performed, due to difficulties to perform
immuno-diffusion reaction according to Outhcherlony's because of the
limited amount of sample available.
The Blood group of the Eucharistic Miracle Blood and Flesh in
Lanciano was defined by Fiori and others.
After five times condensation of the elution liquid against
carbowax in Calover's micro diffuser an electrophoretic run was
performed on acetate-cellulose coloured with Ponceau S and then read on
a Cromoscan photometer.
Mineral research in the elution liquid of the ancient Blood,
was carried out on the photometer in SP 90 Unicam atomic absorption for
magnesium and calcium, on photometer EEL fired for sodium and
potassium, with Shales' and Shales' method (1941) for chloride, with
Goldam- Fernandez's colorimeter method (1968) for phosphorus.
2 The AB blood group now occurs in 4% of the population
and in 3% of Caucasian people, with a higher incidence of AB in Asian
Interestingly, in 1977, a study was made to determine the blood types
of 68 skeletons found in and around Jerusalem. These skeletons were
1,600 - 2,000 years old, and of the 55 whose blood types could be
determined, more than half were of the otherwise rare AB blood group.