Story by S.L. Hansen
CRETE (SNR) - The diocesan Office for Evangelization has announced that its “Eucharistic Miracles of the World” is on display at St. James Parish in Crete through the end of February.
The exhibit will travel to the western part of the diocese in May, where it will be on display at St. Joseph Parish in Benkelman, Mother of Sorrows Parish in Grant, St. Patrick Parish in Imperial, and St. James Parish in Trenton.
Featuring more than 150 Eucharistic miracles, the display is comprised of sturdy panels that tell the inspiring stories of each miracle. The images come from a Vatican-published catalog, “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World.”
Father Andrew Heaslip, director of the Office for Evangelization, was able to see one of the miracles in person on a recent trip to Rome. He visited the first approved Eucharistic miracle, which occurred in Lanciano, Italy.
It was a moving experience that is difficult to put into words.
“There was a strengthening of faith there,” he said.
The Lanciano miracle occurred during the eighth century in St. Legontian Church. A monk beseeched the Lord in prayer because he doubted Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. During Mass, after the Consecration, the monk saw that the host was changed into live Flesh and the wine changed to live Blood.
The archbishop ordered an investigation. After recording testimonies from the witnesses, the miraculous Eucharist was placed in an ivory reliquary and certified as an authentic miracle.
Father Heaslip noted that in the 1970s, scientists tested small portions of the Lanciano Eucharist in blind studies. They verified that the flesh is of human heart tissue and the blood is AB.
“That’s the same blood type found in all the other Eucharistic miracles that have been tested, as well as on the Shroud of Turin,” he said.
He happened to visit St. Legontian Church while Mass was in progress, but there is a chapel behind the altar where visitors can behold the miracle through the window. There, he celebrated Mass for Ron Schlautman and John Sinclair, the two volunteers who transport the diocese’s Eucharistic Miracle exhibit to parishes and schools on request.
Schlautman said he has been volunteering for the exhibit for several years. The panels are packed into an 8’ x 20’ trailer, which he hitches up to his truck for transportation.
He noted that one of the most recently approved Eucharistic Miracles is from Buenos Aires, which is the archdiocese served by Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis.
That miracle occurred in August of 1996. Father Alejandro Pezet was celebrating Mass at a Catholic Church. As he finished distributing the Blessed Sacrament, a woman came up and told him that she had found a discarded Host on a candleholder at the back of the church.
Since Father Alejandro was unable to consume the defiled Host, he placed it in a container of water to dissolve – per Church instruction – and put it into the tabernacle. Some days later, he found that the Host had not dissolved, but had turned into a bloody substance and increased in size.
Cardinal Bergoglio had it scientifically analyzed, again in a blind test so that the researcher would have no idea where or how the sample was acquired. Dr. Frederic Zugiba, a well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist, found that the sample was tissue from a human heart that was in an “inflammatory condition” with a large number of white blood cells indicated that the heart was alive when the sample was taken and the Owner of the heart had been physically tortured.
Schlautman said he feels especially drawn to the miracles involving animals, perhaps because he grew up on a farm. The story of the Eucharistic Miracle of Glotowo, Poland, is enough to choke Schlautman up a bit.
In 1920, the village priest buried a gold-plated ciborium in a field to keep it safe from invading marauders. In his haste, he forgot to make sure it was empty, and indeed, a consecrated Host remained inside.
The raiders destroyed both the village and the church, killing the priest. None of the survivors knew about the hidden ciborium. Years later, a farmer was plowing that field when suddenly the plow got stuck, the oxen knelt, and an intense light shone on the ground in front of the beasts.
The mystified farmer dug up the ciborium and found the Host inside, still pure white and undefiled.
“It’s amazing how animals can see what humans can’t,” Schlautman said.
When the exhibit journeys west later this spring, Schlautman and Sinclair will divide the panels four ways so that each parish has a portion of the miracles on display. This is ideal for those who wish to go on a spiritual pilgrimage close to home.
Father Heaslip encourages all faithful Catholics to view the exhibit when it is nearby.
“Miracles never replace faith, but they support us in our faith,” he said.