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Eucharistic miracle may be mundane

Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie
Debbie Cramsie is a writer and commentator for the Catholic Weekly.
The host was immersed in water, where it began “bleeding,” and was later disposed of by burying. Photo: Twitter/Sachin Jose
The host was immersed in water, where it began “bleeding,” and was later disposed of by burying. Photo: Twitter/Sachin Jose

Australia might have to keep praying for its first Eucharistic miracle, after claims of a “bleeding” host in a Melbourne Catholic parish seem to have been more mundane than miraculous.

Unconfirmed social media reports circulating for the last month claimed that St Paul’s Catholic Church in Melbourne’s Sunshine West had been the site of a Eucharistic miracle on 16 April, Divine Mercy Sunday.

The social media posts said a host found on the floor of the sacristy, and placed in water by the parish priest, had “oozed blood and a reflection of Jesus’ face was visible on the glass.”

Over 300,000 people had viewed the stories online, which also said parishioners from across Melbourne had flocked to the church to venerate the host.

Unfortunately, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Melbourne said there would be no investigation into the miracle, as it was “most likely” the host found in the sacristy was not consecrated.

Parish priest of St Paul’s Sunshine West, Fr Renato Manubag CMF, explained how the host was disposed of but made no mention of any blood being visible.

“Some weeks ago, a host was found lying on the floor of the church sacristy,” he said.

“Not knowing whether it was consecrated, I attempted to dispose of it in a dignified way by immersing it in water.

“This was not effective in dissolving it, so at the direction of the vicar-general [of the Archdiocese of Melbourne,] it has now been buried in the ground.

“This is a traditional and respectful measure the Catholic Church takes in such circumstances.”

Believers and non-believers alike have taken to social media to comment on the extraordinary event and its authenticity.

Many also pleaded for a return to the host being placed on the tongue to avoid issues like this occurring.

One poster commented, “today’s world needs many more of these visible signs that Jesus lives and is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, and only then will all the ‘doubting Thomases’ start believing.”

While another claimed, “that’s why communion should never be given in the hand, only on the tongue, and only given by the consecrated hands of a priest.”

Another said, “I was baptised, made my first Eucharist, confirmation and was married in this church, this is truly a miracle. Jesus, I trust in You. Have mercy on me and on the whole world.”

The Catholic Church’s magisterium teaches that the Eucharist becomes the true body and blood of Christ in substance, while its “accidents” remain in the appearance of bread and wine.

Miracles in which the outward “accidents” also take on the appearance of flesh and blood are extremely rare, but over 100 such miracles have been recognised throughout history.

A 1263 miracle in Bolsena-Orvieta in Italy, in which a priest saw blood seeping out of the host after it was consecrated, led Pope Urban IV to institute the feast of Corpus Christi.

In more recent years, miracles in which hosts are observed to bleed and resemble human tissue have been recorded twice in Poland, in Sokolka in 2008 and Legnica in 2013, with a similar miracle taking place in Tixtla, Mexico in 2006.

Two eucharistic miracles took place in 1992 and 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, both of which were tested by then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

This article was amended on 15/06/2023 to correct an error in the date of Divine Mercy Sunday.

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