Tag Archives: Sacred Heart

Christ’s marvelous intervention seen through Eucharistic miracles

A sampling of Eucharistic miracles are surveyed, in honor of the month of the Sacred Heart, and of the Corpus Christi celebration … and as a reminder of Christ’s continual, actual presence in the world, and among his people.

A priest’s confection of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ is awe-inspiring enough for the faithful Catholic, but for those whose faith has waned or who are downright incredulous, the Lord has more in store. In fact, one of the most celebrated Eucharistic miracles took place in the 700s due to a priest’s doubts regarding the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

At the words of consecration, the doubtful Basilian priest saw, not with the eyes of faith, but with his bodily eyes, the bread change into flesh and the wine into blood. The visible flesh and blood have remained intact over the centuries and are currently kept in a specially designed, elevated altar in St. Francis Church in Lanciano, Italy.

In 1970 Dr. Edward Linoli, professor of anatomy and histology (the study of microscopic animal or plant tissue), was commissioned to investigate the Lanciano phenomenon, which has been the focus of countless pilgrimages over the centuries. The following year, he released a report confirming that the remains are indeed fresh human heart tissue and blood, not tainted by any preservatives. Dr. Linoli’s findings were later confirmed by the World Health Organization.

Meeting the miracle in person

Michael O’Neill, commonly known as “The Miracle Hunter,” led a recent pilgrimage to St. Francis Church in Lanciano. He said that the blood type found there is AB, by far the least common, but the same type found on the Shroud of Turin, which is more likely in Middle Easterners. Samples of flesh and blood miracles have often been found to contain striated heart muscle indicative of torture, and show seamless integration between the visible bread and visible flesh, ruling out the possibility of a hoax.

“There have been common themes throughout the dozens of Eucharistic miracles recognized by the Church, “O’Neill said. A popular speaker at Legatus gatherings, O’Neill continued to explain: “Some of the most common of these themes are bread and wine that turn to visible flesh or blood.” This has been seen all over Europe, as well as in places like Venezuela and Mexico.

O’Neill has a chapter on Eucharistic miracles in his recent book, Exploring the Miraculous. While many of the effects of these miracles have been preserved, as in the case of Lanciano, not every miracle leaves behind tangible remains. For example, O’Neill relates the story of the 20th century stigmatic German, Therese Neumann, who lived almost 40 years on no other food but the Eucharist.

Other types of miracles include preservation from natural disasters and instantaneous conversions, as described in The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, written by Antonia Salzano Acutis, mother of Venerable Carlo Acutis, who cataloged stories of Eucharistic miracles before his death at age 15 in 2006.

The book, which is similar to Joan Carroll Cruz’s bestselling classic, Eucharistic Miracles, was translated into English with the help of The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association and is the compact version of a poster exhibit that has been all over the United States.

One of the miracles exhibited dramatically changed the life of Andre Frossard. He was raised an atheist and his father was one of the founders of the French Communist Party. The younger Frossard even considered himself beyond atheism, to the point that he had never given God adequate consideration to dismiss Him.

Frossard entered a Paris chapel in 1935 at the age of 20 filled with a multiplicity of worldly concerns, and left the chapel filled with the love of God. He was there simply to meet a friend, but in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, he was overwhelmed with divine love. He was subsequently baptized and went on to fight the Nazis in World War II. In 1969 he wrote a bestselling book entitled God Exists; I Have Met Him and in 1990, five years before his death, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher by Pope John Paul II.

Pope’s apparent association with a miracle

Eucharistic miracles were reported from Saint Mary’s Parish in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1992, 1994, and 1996. The specific circumstances varied for each report, but they all involved hosts turning to visible flesh and blood. The last of these reports involves Jorge Bergoglio, then an auxiliary bishop, instructing the host to be photographed, secured in a tabernacle, and, years after no decomposition, to be analyzed. 

One of Bergoglio’s representatives, Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gomez, brought a sample to a California lab without telling the scientists its origin. While this procedure very unfortunately eliminated the great reverence that should have been present, it did ensure no confirmation bias would take place. The scientists, unaffected by any preconceived notions, determined the sample contained human AB blood.

Then Dr. Frederick Zugibe, a renowned New York cardiologist and forensic pathologist, determined that when the sample was given to him, it was living human flesh and blood. This determination also came without prior knowledge of the sample’s origin. Further, he believed the sample specifically to be cardiac muscle from the left ventricle in a rich white blood cell condition indicative of severe stress—as if the person whose heart it was had been beaten on the chest.

In The Eucharistic Miracles of the World Dr. Gomez summarizes the Buenos Aires events this way: “Rightly a theologian pointed out to me how the fact that it was really the myocardium [heart muscle] was not by chance, but was symbolic. The Lord in this miracle wanted to show us His myocardium, which is the muscle that gives life to the whole heart, just as the Eucharist does with the Church.”

Miracles, wonders and saints

O’Neill said that while over 100 Eucharistic miracles have been recognized by the Church, none have come from the United States. However, he does not think that this should alter anyone’s belief in the Real Presence or the accessibility of Americans to the Almighty. He likes to remind people that, before any material manifestations of miracles, the “real” miracle is the Real Presence—the Lord substantially dwelling with us under the appearance of bread. “The Miraculous Miracle” is laden with additional miracles to augment the original and most important one.

O’Neill, who will speak at five Legatus events in 2019, is also working on two separate EWTN series that will air next year. One is about Americans whose canonization causes have been opened, called “They Might Be Saints,” while the other, “Miracle Hunter,” is about wonders of all kinds. He also has four more books in the works, including one from TAN Books/ St. Benedict Press, which is led by Legate Conor Gallagher. The company also prints, not only Joan Carroll Cruz’s Eucharistic Miracles, but other popular works of hers such as The Incorruptibles and Miraculous Images of Our Lord.

TAN Books/St. Benedict Press is a comfortable fit for “The Miracle Hunter,” who feels like he has been working for the past 20 years in the same vein as Venerable Carlo Acutis, one of his patrons: “I am inspired by Carlo’s perception of the importance of spiritual things at such a young age. He combined that awareness with his technological skills to make the wonders of God’s grace present to many people. I hope to carry on his work and ask for his intercession in this endeavor, which reaches its fulfillment in Eternal Life.”

TRENT BEATTIE is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

Evangelization through the Sacred Heart

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on the first Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi and commemorates the love, suffering, and compassion of Christ for all humanity. Pope St. John Paul II, himself an inspiration for Legatus, had a profound devotion to the Sacred Heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was also an essential component of Pope John Paul II’s hopes for the “New Evangelization” called for by the Church.

Stephen Henley

“For evangelization today,” he said, “the Heart of Christ must be recognized as the heart of the Church: It is He who calls us to conversion, to reconciliation. It is He who leads pure hearts and those hungering for justice along the way of the Beatitudes. It is He who achieves the warm communion of the members of the one Body. It is He who enables us to adhere to the Good News and to accept the promise of eternal life. It is He who sends us out on mission. The heart-to-heart with Jesus broadens the human heart on a global scale.” There are those around us who do not have the faith we are privileged to hold. The Heart of Christ leads us, faithful Catholics, but also leads those who don’t recognize that they are being led. It lies upon us, those who know, to reach out to those who do not and bring them along to Christ.

As Christians, as Catholics, as Legatus members, we are all called to a life of evangelization. Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” We are called to specific vocations at just this time. Sometimes these “small things” can be as simple as a kind greeting to someone you always see but that you never acknowledge, or perhaps an invite to those neighbors that you always say ‘hi’ to, but never anything more. Perhaps invite a friend or family member who hasn’t been to Mass in a while to attend with you. Whether it is as overt as an invitation to Mass or as simple as a nod of the head, making a real connection with others is the beginning to evangelization and anyone can do it!

As Legatus members, we are challenged: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mat 28: 19-20). Through the love of the Sacred Heart, we can and must go out into our own world and bring Christ to all we meet.

I pray you have a wonderful summer and that you seize every opportunity to bring Christ to those you meet!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director

Heart of the Redeemer

Timothy T. O’Donnell 
Ignatius Press
356 pages

Has devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus become outdated? This updated and revised edition of the modern classic originally published in 1989 provides a thorough historical and theological study of the Sacred Heart devotion, taking the reader from its scriptural and dogmatic foundations through the 17th-century visions of St. Margaret Mary Alcoque and to the reflections of recent popes. In doing so he makes a convincing case for the relevance and even urgency of devotion to the Sacred Heart. He describes how it is linked to the Eucharist and other forms of piety including the popular Divine Mercy devotion and closes with concrete suggestions for practicing it.

Order: Amazon , Ignatius Press

Hearts wounded by love: The Sacred Heart, fathers, and abortion

In June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ extends to us His flaming heart that has been lanced and pierced with thorns. It is a suffering heart. Christ loves us by saving our lives in exchange for His life. We, as the body of Christ, are called to do the same.

Fr. Frank Pavone

One way this love is embodied is in pro-life work. It is a work of self-giving love for children in the womb who don’t even know we are loving them. It is a lifesaving work that comes with a cost. The crown of thorns on the heart and the piercing with the lance symbolize the suffering that all those who defend the unborn will undergo; defend the unborn and you will be treated like them. Despite suffering, Christ’s heart keeps on beating inside His body. Similarly, we persevere within the Body of Christ.

And we worship the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart is part of His body, the body of God. Devotion to the Sacred Heart brings to the forefront the reality of the Incarnation. And so does pro-life work. Just as the heart is a physical organ, prolife work is a physical concern, not just a spiritual one. We must pray for the children in the womb, but we must also encounter them physically and defend them physically. We pray at the places where they are being killed, we counsel the moms in whose wombs they are nourished, we bury the bodies of those we could not save. We act, in the body, because we are moved by His love, which He shows us in His Body.

Jesus said He is meek and humble of heart, and this brings us to the heart of the pro-life movement. The attitude of humility is the opposite of prochoice, which asserts itself. Humility humbles itself and accepts the choices of God. It accepts that God’s will and plans are better than our own, even if they come unexpectedly.

Moreover, the passion of love in the Sacred Heart is also the passion of love by which we defend the baby in the womb; His heart of mercy is the mercy we extend to all who have been involved in abortion. Pro-lifers are often stereotyped as caring about the baby but not about the mother. This claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Our ministry at Priests for Life ministers to the baby’s mom, dad, and entire family. Under our umbrella, the world’s largest ministries for healing after abortion operate. Rachel’s Vineyard offers healing retreats for families broken by abortion. Silent No More gives them an opportunity to share their testimony of pain and healing, and thereby to inspire in others the hope that they too can be forgiven.

Close to the annual celebration of the Sacred Heart, of course, comes Father’s Day, and we are seeing more and more men come to our healing programs to grieve the children they have lost to abortion. Many repent of having consented to the abortion. But likewise, so many men didn’t even know about it. I have never seen a man more angry than a friend of mine who told me many years ago that his girlfriend had their baby killed without his knowledge. Men are hardwired to be protectors and providers. To be unable to save one’s own child, and to even be shut out of the possibility of doing so, is an insult to one’s manhood. This is why the men of our Silent No More campaign hold signs saying, “I Regret Lost Fatherhood.”

Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to renew our awareness of the pain of these fathers, and our efforts to reach them with the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a heart which, like theirs, is wounded precisely because of Its love. For more information, visit www.FatherhoodForever.org.

FR. FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com