Throughout Christian history, our Lord has shown us that He is really present as the Blessed Sacrament. Interestingly, many Eucharistic miracles have occurred during times of weakened Faith. For instance, many Eucharist miracles have taken place as a result of someone doubting the Real Presence. Most Eucharistic miracles involve incidences in which the Host has “turned into human flesh and blood”. Of course, we as Catholics believe that the consecrated Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, under the appearances of bread and wine. Therefore, Jesus, through these miracles, merely manifests His Presence in a more tangible way.
In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as being a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal. The priest was immediately confused. At first he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urban IV was then residing.
The Pope listened to the priest’s account and absolved him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood and had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Many pilgrims and tourists journey to St. Christina’s Church in Bolsena to see for themselves the place where the miracle occurred; where the stains on the paved floor are said to have been made by the blood from the miraculous Host.
It is said that Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the Proper for a Mass and an Office honoring the Holy Eucharist as the Body of Christ. One year after the miracle, in August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced the saint’s composition, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi.
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