The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

Today we reached the small town of Lanciano, about which we had already been told a lot. Here once one of the greatest miracles of Christianity should have taken place, the so-called "Eucharistic miracle" of Lanciano. One could still see its traces. So we were more than just curious what exactly would expect us here. Because we did not really understand what it was all about. Only that it had something to do with the Blood and Heart of Jesus and that it bore the name Miracolo Eucaristico, which meant something like Eucharistic Miracle. But, to be honest, that didn't help us either.

Das Wunder auf dem Gipfel des Berges

Wie jede Stadt in dieser Region liegt Lanciano oben auf einem Berg, weshalb wir ebenfalls ein Wunder benötigten, um nach Erreichen des Ortes überhaupt noch Luft bekommen zu können. So ein zusätzliches Herz von Jesus hätte jetzt sicher nicht geschadet. Doch zunächst brauchten wir erst einen Schlafplatz, bevor wir uns um die Heiligtümer kümmern konnten. Denn das Franziskanerkloster selbst hatte sich auf ein rein kommerzielles Dasein konzentriert, das auch für Langzeitpilger keine Ausnahme machen wollte. Wer ihr Heiligtum und ihr wunder sehen wollte, der sollte auch für seine Übernachtung zahlen. Eine ganz klare und einfache Politik also. Glücklicherweise waren sie nicht die einzigen Ordensleute im Ort. So gab es unter anderem eine Kongregation von Nonnen, die aus Brasilien hier hergezogen waren. Es waren wundervolle und herzliche Schwestern, die uns nahezu adoptierten und fast nicht wieder hergeben wollten.

So small and already a miracle?

After the sun had lost some of its height and power, we ventured out again onto the streets to see the city and the Eucharistic miracle. In fact, the shrine that kept the relics was rather disappointing compared to many other holy places here in Italy. The church was relatively simple and had no special abilities or characteristics. It was simply a church, with an altar in the place where there was always an altar around. Only this time there was a glass vessel installed on top of it, which contained some brown lumps of something that could not be further specified. Without a background knowledge, one could not do too much with this place. But the story behind all this is not uninteresting.

The story of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

It all began in the 8th century AD. Even though at that time it was still assumed that the earth was a disk, some people refused to believe simply everything as it was chewed out for them. Among these skeptics was a monk who celebrated Mass in a small church here in Lanciano. While he was preparing the distribution of the hosts, he had reasonable doubts about whether he was really giving the presence of the Blood and Body of Christ to his community. What if it was just a little wine and a little bread and nothing else?

A sign from heaven

While he was still thinking about his doubts, suddenly the miracle happened. In his own hands and before the eyes of the entire congregation, the Host suddenly turned into flesh. Moreover, according to tradition, it was even living flesh. Whatever is meant by this.

At the same time, the wine turned into living blood, which shortly afterwards ran and formed five irregular lumps.

In fact, it can still be seen today that this "meat hostie" was exactly the size of the "Hostia Magna", the type of host that was then used as standard at the fairs. It has a dark brown colour and looks slightly pink when held against the light. The blood clots were in an earthy brown, as one would expect from coagulated blood.

A place of honor for the relics

Enthused by this miracle, these newly acquired relics were immediately declared sanctuaries and kept in an artistically designed ivory tabernacle.

In the first centuries it was the Basilians who were responsible for the storage and care of the sanctuaries. That order to which the monk belonged, in whose hands they were created. Later the Benedictines were entrusted with it and since 1252 the Franciscans have been guarding the relics. Since then, they have been moved a few times and moved from one end of the church to the other. But in the end they always stayed here in the center of Lanciano.

Scientific confirmation of the miracle

Of course, the relics themselves again caused a whole heap of doubts and it was always demanded that their authenticity be checked. The last time this was done was in 1970 by a team of scientific experts. This was led by Prof. Odoardo Linoli, a freelance lecturer in anatomy, pathological tissue science, chemistry and clinical microscopy, together with Prof. Ruggero Bertelli of the University of Siena. Their findings were as follows: the blood was real blood, with DNA and cell structure identical to that of a human being. The same applied to the flesh. This was a piece of a heart muscle with a clearly human signature. Both blood and flesh had the same blood group and could actually be dated to the time of the miracle. But why the heart muscle had been preserved over such a long period of time without being preserved remained a mystery to the scientists.

On 4 March 1971, the scientists presented their findings in the Church of St. Francis, in the presence of various representatives of the Church, culture and medicine. They officially confirmed the authenticity of the miracle.

A small doubt remains

Strictly speaking, of course, this was not quite true. After all, they could only examine the relics and not the miracle itself. Because the fact that the samples were real human tissue did not prove that they had been created in a miraculous way. The monk could just as well have been a talented trickster, skillfully exchanging host and wine for the previously obtained flesh and blood preparations in front of everyone. Because even then, getting hold of human tissue and blood was certainly not too much of a problem. But today, this is probably no longer possible to determine.

  The slogan of the day: Just because it is a miracle, it does not necessarily have to be spectacular! Stage for the day: Santuario "Santa Maria die Miracoli", Casalbordino, Italy

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