This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). As Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is truly and substantially the Body and Blood of the Savior of the world, even though, most of the time, the bread and wine retain their physical properties after the consecration of the Mass. But on some rare occasions in Church history, God has caused the transformation to become visible to human eyes.
One of these graced moments occurred back in the 8th century, when a priest in Lanciano, Italy, was having doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Not surprisingly, he prayed to have those doubts removed. One day, as he was celebrating Mass, God answered his request in miraculous fashion by literally changing the bread and wine into flesh and blood at the consecration.
The elements were never consumed; they’ve been preserved for 13 centuries at a shrine in Lanciano. In 1971, the Church decided to have the elements analyzed by a team of scientists. Their testing led them to the following conclusions:
• The blood of the Eucharistic Miracle is real blood and the flesh is real flesh. Both belong to the human species.
• The flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.
• The flesh and blood have the same blood type (AB positive).
• The proteins in the blood are in the same proportions as those found in normal, fresh human blood.
• There is no trace whatsoever of any materials or agents having been used to preserve the elements.
This is probably the most famous of all the Eucharistic miracles that have occurred since Jesus instituted the sacrament at the Last Supper. It is given to us to strengthen our faith in the miraculous transformation of the bread and wine which happens at every single Mass that’s celebrated, even if the transformation is not visible.