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Pastor's Column

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

Pastor’s Column

Corpus Christi

June 11, 2023

Photo by Father Gary Zerr

One of my favorite Eucharistic Miracles, and the most famous of them all, is the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy. Almost 1300 years ago a priest was celebrating Mass, just as we do today. But he had doubts – could it be that our Lord is really present in the bread and the wine? “How can this be?” he asked himself – and he asked our Lord for a sign to help him with the unbelief that he was struggling with.

Then, at the consecration, as happens in every Catholic Mass, the bread turned into Christ’s body and the wine into his blood. Of course, it is our belief as Catholics that this happens every time we celebrate Mass – though we don’t always see a miracle in the physical sense. But this time, the change became visible – the flesh became real, the blood became real. It was a Eucharistic miracle; everything was visible to all who were in attendance at the miracle that day.

I want to tell you a few details about this miracle because I believe our Lord provided this precisely for us in our scientific age. In 1970, the Archbishop of Lanciano submitted the miracle to a very detailed scientific analysis. What was determined was that the 1300-year-old Eucharist was one continuous piece of authentic human flesh consisting of a human heart muscle, shaped in such a way that would have been next to impossible to have done in the 9th century. The “miraculous blood” is truly human blood as well. In both the flesh and the blood we find the same blood type--AB--which is the most common blood type for those human beings of Middle Eastern origin. The blood contains proteins that are distributed in exactly the same proportions as normal fresh blood would have.

In all, over 500 tests were performed. The conclusion was that in no way could the flesh in Lanciano and the blood be likened to embalmed tissue. There was no evidence of any sort of preservative or embalming type fluids used. In fact, there is no scientific explanation as to why this flesh and blood is still with us at all, for any normal flesh and blood without preservatives would have deteriorated long ago. Considering that it was unprotected in any way to the elements, other than a glass case, makes it even more inexplicable.

We are connected in time and space with the people who assisted at this Mass in Lanciano so many years ago because there is really only ONE Mass and ONE Sacrifice, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every Mass is a re-presentation of the last supper, brought to our time so that all Christians might be sacramentally present with him on that Holy Thursday night and later, on the cross.

Father Gary


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