Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

There are many alleged Eucharistic miracles -- that is, incidents in which the Eucharist is said to bleed, to survive things like fire or other phenomena that should have destroyed its accidents, to levitate, to never corrupt, etc. But the miracle that took place at Lanciano is one that has been deemed "worthy of belief" and studied scientifically, so I must mention it here.

Lanciano is a town in Abruzzo, on the eastern side of Italy, near the Adriatic Sea. There, in the 8th century, a Basilian priest was offering Mass at the monastery of St. Longinus. He was experiencing a crisis of faith, doubting the reality of the Eucharist, so God granted him a very unusual and great grace: when he got to the words of consecration, the transubstatiation that took place was more than one in which the accidents of bread and wine remained; in this instance, the accidents themselves transformed into biological flesh and blood. That is, the bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ in a way that was evident to the physical eyes. The bread became a mass of bloody tissue, and the wine separated into five distinct globules, as if clotted (and perhaps to memorialize the Five Wounds). In 1631, an anonymous writer put to paper what had been handed down to him by tradition (and, perhaps, no longer extant documents):

He [the Basilian priest] was so confused and terrified by such a Stupendous Miracle that he stood utterly dumbfounded as if by ecstasy for a long period; but eventually, his fear gave way to the spiritual happiness that filled his soul, and he turned his joyful yet tearful face to those around him and cried out: "O fortunate friends to whom the Blessed Lord has deigned to reveal himself in this Most Holy Sacrament and to make himself visible before your eyes and to dispel my own unbelief.Come, brothers, and gaze at our God drawn near us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ".

At these words, all people hurried avidly to the altar with deep devotion, and there upon witnessing the Miracle, they began to cry out with tears for divine mercy.

As the news of such a rare and peculiar Miracle spread through the city, who could describe the acts of piety that the great and the small performed as they hurried to see the Wonder with their own eyes: some cried out with devout voice for divine mercy; some beat their breasts and confessed their guilt and sins; others with subdued voices and sighs admitted their unworthiness to gaze upon such a precious treasure; and others still, in a state of rapture and reverent silence admired, marvelled, praised, and thanked the all-good God who deigned to place before our mortal senses His immortal and incomprehensible Majesty.

The incident was investigated by the Bishop at the time, and again in 1574 by Archbishop Antonio Gaspar Rodríguez, who canonically recognized the event. Over the centuries, the Franciscans came to be in charge of the church (now known as the church of St. Francis) and, hence, the Body and Blood, which where eventually housed in a silver monstrance dating to 1713, and a 17th century crystal chalice, respectively (see picture at the bottom of this page). 

Then, between November of 1970, and March of 1971, the Body and Blood were subjected to the techniques of modern science. The results of the studies -- performed by Dr. Edoardo Linoli, professor of anatomy and pathological histology, and of chemistry and clinical microscopy, and former head of the Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy at the Hospital of Arezzo, assisted by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, retired professor of human anatomy at the University of Siena -- were published in volume 7 of "Quaderni Sclavo di Diagnostica". This is what they found.

The Science

The Flesh is mummified, round, 55-60 mm (2.37 inches) in diameter, smooth on its surface, and yellowish-brown in color. It's thinner in the middle, and torn there, retracting toward the periphery. Because it's dried out, it's shrunken, but one can readily see that it's a hollow organ. Histologically, as determined by Lenzi's method, it's been determined to be human cardiac tissue belonging to the AB blood group.1 Specifically, it is "striated muscular tissue which for its diffuse syncytial junctions among the fibres, appears to be of myocardial origin, with arterial and venous vessels and two thin branches of the vagal nerve. This identification is made on the basis of the scattered orientation of the fibers, their consistent end-to-end syncytial aggregation, the presence of some transversal connections and the penetration of muscle fibers within some interstitial adipose lobules; all these observations are not compatible with the aspect of a skeletal muscular tissue. Finally, the endocardial layer is visible, with 'rough hills' on the cavity surface; in the subendocardial district, normal myocardial tissue is visible."

The Blood is in five irregularly-shaped parts, weighing together 15.85 g. It, too, is yellowish-brown in color. Histological testing determined that it is, indeed, Blood, that it is human, and that it, too, is of the type AB -- the same blood type as the Flesh, and precisely the same rare blood type that is found on the Shroud of Turin. 2 Protein levels were normal, calcium levels were high, and  chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sodium were low.

According to a May, 2005 Zenit article, 3

In 1973, the Higher Council of the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed a scientific commission to verify the Italian doctor’s conclusions. The work was carried out over 15 months with a total of 500 examinations. The conclusions of all the researches confirmed what had been stated and published in Italy.

The extract of the scientific research of WHO’s medical commission was published in New York and Geneva in 1976, confirming science’s inability to explain the phenomenon.

Where the Body and Blood are Located

You can visit the shrine where the Body and Blood are housed at:

Santuario del Miracolo Eucaristico
Frati Minori Conventuali
66034 Lanciano (CH) Italy
Telephone: (0872) 713189

But know that the Body and Blood can be seen -- and received -- at any Catholic Mass, at any Catholic Church, most any day of the week, by those who are properly disposed.

The Body and Blood of Christ
Click to enlarge


1 Fr. Nicola Nasuti, OFM Conv., describes the testing used thus in his "Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Historical, Theological, Scientific and Photographic Documentation":

For the histological study of the ancient Flesh in Lanciano Lenzi's method was used, which is well adapted to mummified tissues.

Microtomic sections, (hardly obtained since the tissue was extremely strong) were treated with eosine-emallume dyes, Mallory, Van Gieson, dyes Ignesti's method for muscle tissue and Gomori's silver impregnation.

For Blood, identification was tried on a small fragment of tissue, according to the technique used for the Flesh. In addition Teichmann's micro chemical reactions have been used after adaptation by Bertrand with chloride-hematine, Takayama's test with hemochromogen, Burton and Stone's test with orthotolidine used for oxidases, thin layer chromatography of haemoglobin according to Franchini's technique, modified for this specific test.

To find which species belong to the ancient Blood and Flesh in Lanciano, very small fragments have been soaked into distilled water with micro-potter. The zonal precipitation test by Uhlenhuth using the eluition liquid has been performed, due to difficulties to perform immuno-diffusion reaction according to Outhcherlony's because of the limited amount of sample available.

The Blood group of the Eucharistic Miracle Blood and Flesh in Lanciano was defined by Fiori and others.
After five times condensation of the elution liquid against carbowax in Calover's micro diffuser an electrophoretic run was performed on acetate-cellulose coloured with Ponceau S and then read on a Cromoscan photometer.

Mineral research in the elution liquid of the ancient Blood, was carried out on the photometer in SP 90 Unicam atomic absorption for magnesium and calcium, on photometer EEL fired for sodium and potassium, with Shales' and Shales' method (1941) for chloride, with Goldam- Fernandez's colorimeter method (1968) for phosphorus.

The AB blood group now occurs in 4% of the population worldwide, and in 3% of Caucasian people, with a higher incidence of AB in Asian countries (~10%).

Interestingly, in 1977, a study was made to determine the blood types of 68 skeletons found in and around Jerusalem. These skeletons were 1,600 - 2,000 years old, and of the 55 whose blood types could be determined, more than half were of the otherwise rare AB blood group. Source:

3 Source:

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