An inscription in marble from the 17th century describes this Eucharistic miracle which occurred at Lanciano in 750 at the Church of St. Francis. “A monastic priest doubted whether the Body of Our Lord was truly present in the consecrated Host. He celebrated Mass and when he said the words of consecration, he saw the host turn into Flesh and the wine turn into Blood. Everything was visible to those in attendance. The Flesh is still intact and the Blood is divided into five unequal parts which together have the exact same weight as each one does separately”.
In 1970, the Archbishop of Lanciano and the Provincial Superior of the Conventual Franciscans at Abruzzo, with Rome’s approval, requested Dr. Edward Linoli, director of the hospital in Arezzo and professor of anatomy, histology, chemistry, and clinical microscopy, to perform a thorough scientific examination on the relics of the miracle which had occurred twelve centuries earlier. On March 4, 1971, the professor presented a detailed report of the various studies carried out. Here are the basic results:
- The "miraculous Flesh" is authentic flesh consisting of muscular striated tissue of the myocardium.
- The "miraculous Blood" is truly blood. The chromatographic analysis indicated this with absolute and indisputable certainty.
- The immunological study shows with certitude that the flesh and the blood are human, and the immuno – hematological test allows us to affirm with complete objectivity and certitude that both belong to the same blood type AB – the same blood type as that of the man of the Shroud and the type most characteristic of Middle Eastern populations.
- The proteins contained in the blood have the normal distribution, in the identical percentage as that of the serous-proteic chart for normal fresh blood.
- No histological dissection has revealed any trace of salt infiltrations or preservative substances used in antiquity for the purpose of embalming.
This report was published in The Sclavo Notebooks in Diagnostics (Collection #3, 1971) and aroused great interest in the scientific world.
Also, in 1973, the chief Advisory Board of the World Health Organization appointed a scientific commission to corroborate Linoli’s findings. Their work lasted 15 months and included 500 tests. It was verified that the fragments taken from Lanciano could in no way be likened to embalmed tissue. As to the nature of the fragment of flesh, the commission declared it to be living tissue because it responded rapidly to all the clinical reactions distinctive of living beings. Their reply fully corroborated Professor Linoli’s conclusions. In the extract summarizing the scientific work of the Medical Commission of the WHO and the UN, published in Dec. 1976 in New York and Geneva, declared that science, aware of its limits, has come to a halt, face to face with the impossibility of giving an explanation.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374-1381.
1374. The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,73,3c.) In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." (Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651.) "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." (Paul VI, MF 39.)
1375. It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered. (St. John Chrysostom, prod. Jud. 1:6:PG 49,380.)
And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature. (St. Ambrose, De myst. 9,50; 52:PL 16,405-407.)
1376. The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation." (Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf. Mt 26:26 ff.; Mk 14:22 ff.; Lk 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor 11:24 ff.)
1377. The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. (Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.)
1378. Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession." (Paul VI, MF 56.)
1379. The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
1380. It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end," (Jn 13:1.) even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, (Cf. Gal 2:20.) and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:
The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease. (John Paul II, Dominicae cenae, 3.)
1381. "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, 'but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 ('This is my body which is given for you.'), St. Cyril says: 'Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,75,1; cf. Paul VI, MF 18; St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Luc. 22,19:PG 72,912; cf. Paul VI, MF 18.)
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(Malachi 1:11) 11For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.
(Matthew 26:26-28) 26And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave to his disciples and said: Take ye and eat. This is my body. 27And taking the chalice, he gave thanks and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. 28For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.
(John 1:29) 29The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him; and he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.
(John 6:48-58) 48I am the bread of life. 49Your fathers did eat manna in the desert: and are dead. 50This is the bread which cometh down from heaven: that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. 52The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 54He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 55For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 56He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. 57As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.
(Acts 2:42) 42And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communication of the breaking of bread and in prayers.
(Acts 20:7) 7And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow. And he continued his speech until midnight.
(1 Corinthians 10:16) 16The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?
(1 Corinthians 11:23-29) 23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, 24And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. 25In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. 26For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. 27Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.