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NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry & Blog Administrator


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Miracles of the Eucharist in the Lives of the Saints


"For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats
my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."

~ Words of Jesus Christ, John 6:55-56

TRUTH: The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Through the Eucharist, Christ fulfills his promise that he will be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20).  Apparently, not just in spirit but in the actual flesh... and, on this day in 2014, the Catholic Church universally celebrates this stupendous truth through the solemn Feast of Corpus Christi.

Yes, it's a hard teaching to wrap one's head around - the fact that our Lord can be truly present to us in the form of bread and wine... but at the same time, for those of us who accept it wholeheartedly, it makes sense, too.  Via the Eucharist, Jesus desires to establish an intimate, personal relationship with us... and how much more personal can he get than by becoming our very food?  Divine sustenance that serves to nourish our souls and bodies, as well... and in his characteristic simplicity, God chose humble bread and wine - the basic food staples of the common people of Christ's time - as the manner in which to do so.  It ties in closely, too, with what the Lord, himself, taught us to ask for from our Heavenly Father: "... Give us this day our daily bread..."

Since this ministry and blog are dedicated to promoting devotion to the Saints I thought I'd take this Feast Day as an opportunity to share about Eucharistic Miracles that occurred in the lives of our Catholic Mystics; signs and wonders that confirm the true presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Before continuing, let me just state that I've read hundreds of biographies of Servants of God, Blesseds, and Saints... and one thing I know with complete certainty - ALL of them believed in the Church's teaching on the Eucharist.  So with that being said, below are just a few examples of Eucharistic signs in the lives of our spiritual heroes and role models...


+ PERPETUAL FASTS

    
Three mystic-souls who lived without the need for earthly nourishment; they lived on the
Eucharist alone.  From left to right: Bl. Alexandrina Da Costa, Marthe Robin, & Viktoria Hecht.

The gift of foregoing food and drink and subsisting on just the Eucharist alone was noted in the lives of the following saintly souls: Bl. Mary of Oignies (d. 1213), St. Angela of Foligno (d. 1309), Bl. Elizabeth the Good of Waldsee (d. 1420), St. Lydwina of Schiedam (d. 1433), St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380), St. Nicholas von Flue (d. 1487), Francesca del Serrone (d. 1601), St. Rose of Lima (d. 1617), St. Marianna de Jesus Paredes Flores (d. 1645), Domenica Lazzeri (d. 1848), Juliana Engelbrecht (d. 1853), Louise Lateau (d. 1883), Viktoria Hecht (d. 1890), Magdalena Gornik (d. 1896), Rosalie Put (d. 1919), Teresa Palminota (d. 1934), Marie Julie Jahenny (d. 1941), Berthe Petit (d. 1943), Luisa Piccarreta (d. 1947), Bl. Alexandrina Da Costa (d. 1955), Marthe Robin (d. 1981), the recent case of the Italian mystic/stigmatic, Antonietta de Vitus (d. 2004).

A modern example that stands out is the case of Therese Neumann (d. 1962), a peasant-farmer from the town of Konnersreuth, Germany.  Therese was seriously injured while assisting in putting out a neighbor's fire.  She was subsequently bedridden and blind for a period of time until she was miraculously cured through the intercession of another Therese - St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower (d. 1897).

The Servant of God, Therese Neumann, receiving Holy Communion from her priest.
In place of the priest, she often saw the Lord, himself, approaching her with the Host.

From 1923 until her death in 1962, Therese stopped eating altogether and began living on the Eucharist alone.  At about the same time - in Lent of 1926 - she was also stigmatized during a series of visions, which left her bearing on her body the complete set of wounds of our Lord's Passion.  The veracity of her miraculous fasting was proven medically by a doctor and a team of four nuns, who were commissioned by the local bishop to closely observe Therese for a two week period; never leaving her alone for the entire time.  She successfully passed the medical examination to the satisfaction of her observers and with no ill effects to her health.

Significantly, when Therese Neumann was questioned about her ability to live without food, except for the Eucharist, she replied simply, "I live on my Savior."  What an appropriate and profound answer (refer to John 6:35)!  Therese's Cause for Canonization has been initiated by her local Diocese.  


+ MYSTICAL COMMUNIONS

    
Three women who on at least one occasion in their lives, received Holy Communion miraculously.
From left to right: St. Catherine of Siena, St. Juliana Falconieri, & Bl. Margaret Ebner.

The following mystics, according to their biographers, on at least one occasion received Holy Communion at the hands of Jesus, himself, or through the agency of Holy Angels and/or other Saints: St. Agnes of Montepulciano, St. Juliana Falconieri (d. 1341), Bl. Margaret Ebner (d. 1351), St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380), St. Stanislaus Kostka (d. 1568), St. Paschal Baylon (d. 1592), St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi (d. 1607), Magdalena Gornik (d. 1896), Teresa Helena Higginson (d. 1905), Marie Julie Jahenny (d. 1941), Edvige Carboni (d. 1952), Therese Neumann (d. 1962), Katarzyna Szymon (d. 1986), and the three young Fatima Seers: Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, who received Holy Communion from the hands of an angel in 1916.

Bl. Imelda Lambertini
In this second group of privileged individuals, among them stands out a child who died at the very tender age of 11.  Her name was Imelda Lambertini (right image), who was Beatified by the Church in 1826.  Bl. Imelda was of a noble family from Bologna, Italy, and was precocious and unusually pious from her earliest years.  At the age of 9, she was allowed to board with the local Dominican nuns, among whom she yearned to receive the Lord in Holy Communion, but was denied because of her young age.

On May 12, 1333, Imelda was assisting at a Mass during which she poured out her sorrow unto the Lord for not being able to receive the Eucharist along with the nuns.  She remained praying after the Mass and was later witnessed by the Sacristan in ecstasy, with a luminous Host floating above her head.  The priest and the nuns were recalled to the chapel, where the decision was made to give Imelda the miraculous Host as her First Holy Communion.  She fervently received her beloved Jesus and collapsed soon after, seemingly dying from sheer joy. Imelda's story may seem too fantastic to believe, except for one thing - it's not only meticulously attested to, but her little incorrupt body is still reverently enshrined in Bologna.  Fittingly, the Catholic Church has designated Bl. Imelda the Patroness of First Communicants.

The incorrupt body of Bl. Imelda Lambertini, as venerated in Bologna, Italy.


+ MIRACULOUS MASSES

    
Three holy priests, who were witnessed to levitate while celebrating Mass, especially
during the consecration when the bread/wine is transformed into the body/blood of Christ.
From left to right: St. Dominic de Guzman, St. Paul of the Cross, & Fr. Paul of Moll.

One may have noticed that, all but two of the names listed so far in this particular blog have been women... but the miraculous power of the Eucharist has also been manifested in the lives of holy men - mainly priests whose words have the God-given power to transform mere bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  The following are names of priests who, during the Mass, were witnessed rising above the ground - levitating - in contradiction to the laws of nature.  It was as though their prayers, at the exact moment of changing the bread/wine into the Lord, had also lifted them closer to Heaven.  Among these exceptional priests were: St. Dominic de Guzman (d. 1221), St. Philip Neri (d. 1595), St. Joseph of Cupertino (d. 1663), St. Francis of Posadas (d. 1713), St. Thomas of Cori (d. 1729), St. Paul of the Cross (d. 1775), and the modern, wonder-working Benedictine, Fr. Paul of Moll (d. 1896).

On a different note, the great stigmatized priest - St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (d. 1968) - would offer Masses that were reported to last more than three hours!  During the course of each Liturgy he was witnessed to go through phases of suffering and exultation, which convinced participants the Saint was reliving the Passion of Christ, itself.  The stigmata on his hands would be uncovered and visibly red with his blood, while emitting the most exquisite fragrance of roses... and Padre Pio frequently saw Jesus during the moment of consecration; his Masses, indeed, were miracles.


+ OTHER EUCHARISTIC SIGNS

  
Portraits of the illustrious St. Teresa of Avila & St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who were
both witnessed to levitate, especially during the celebration of the Mass.

In the section above, I shared about the gift of enraptured flight that was manifested in certain worthy priests during the Holy Mass.  However, on the receiving end, there were also mystics who were raised up in the air after having received the Blessed Sacrament from the hands of priests.  In the biography of St. Teresa of Avila (d. 1582), it was reported that the reception of the Eucharist would sometimes trigger sublime ecstasies that were accompanied by levitation.  These sudden raptures came upon her in full view of others and, because of their frequency, the Saint trained her nuns to surround her with their cloaks held up like makeshift curtains so as to conceal the miracle from curious eyes.

The same grace of flight was granted to other individuals after their Holy Communions, among them: St. Benedict Joseph Labre (d. 1783) and Bl. Maria of the Passion (d. 1912).  In St. Benedict's case, it was a recurrent sight in the Basilicas of Rome to find him suspended in mid-air in ecstatic prayer after Mass.  The sacristans - who referred to Benedict Joseph as "the saint" - had gotten so used to the wonder, they would just ignore him and continue on with their chores.  Regarding Bl. Maria of the Passion (a stigmatized nun), receiving Communion so invigorated her, witnesses regularly observed her literally gliding on air and flying up the stairs leading to her room in the monastery, on her return from Mass.  Furthermore, despite the Beata's chronic illnesses, these mystical flights were so rapid, not even the healthier nuns could keep up with her!

St. Clare saving Assisi from invaders
through the power of the Host.
St. Clare of Assisi (d. 1253) is popularly depicted carrying the Host in a monstrance (left image).  This iconography was due to a stupendous miracle that occurred in 1244 involving the Saint and the Blessed Sacrament.  In that year, Saracens invaded Assisi and began to overrun the convent of the Poor Clares in which St. Clare resided.  Although she was gravely ill, she asked to be carried outside bearing the Body of Christ in a monstrance. After offering a prayer of protection for her nuns and the city, the invaders suddenly and inexplicably scattered without harming any of the inhabitants of the convent or city.  The miraculous protection was attributed not just to Clare's prayers, but more so, to the power of the Lord in the Eucharist.

In the life of the Roman lay-mystic, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi (d. 1837), at times, after receiving Communion, she would be overwhelmed by Divine Love and fall unconscious on her way back to the pews (slain/resting in the spirit?).  On other occasions, her face would blush red due to an extraordinary internal fire.  Tears would then flow copiously from Anna Maria's eyes, while in a state of ecstasy, after having received the Host.

And speaking of that intense internal heat - the "fire" of Divine Love - at least one mystic received this grace directly through the agency of the Blessed Sacrament.  Her name was Teresa Palminota (d. 1934) and, while participating in Eucharistic Adoration, witnessed brilliant rays stream from the Host towards her chest.  It had the effect of filling her with such an intense infusion of love for God, her heart was suddenly enlarged, fracturing a few ribs in the process.  From then on, like Bl. Anna Maria, an unusual heat also burned within Teresa's chest.

Holy Communion triggered ecstasies and other
phenomena in the life of Bl. Anna Maria Taigi. 

Lastly, many stigmatized individuals, in particular, had a special affinity and sensitivity to the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament (many of the names mentioned on this blog are Stigmatics) were able to discern the presence of the Lord whenever a consecrated Host was in near proximity.  The Eucharist elicited in these mystics excitement and joy, even when the Blessed Sacrament was secretly brought into their presence.  Among the Stigmatics who had this ability were Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (d. 1824), Maria Von Morl (d. 1868), Rosalie Put (d. 1919), Marie Julie Jahenny (d. 1941), and Therese Neumann, who was already mentioned above.

A notable example of supernatural recognition was exemplified in the life of the stigmatized Belgian, Louise Lateau (d. 1883), who would immediately fall to her knees facing the priest, if he carried the Host with him.  Louise never failed to perform this act of adoration although she was usually in an altered state - with eyes closed - and oblivious to her surroundings, and even when the Blessed Sacrament was concealed from view.  Incidentally, Louise was also one of those privileged souls reported to have survived on just the Eucharist alone.

A painting of the Stigmatist, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich.  From early childhood
she was drawn to the Eucharist and could recognize the presence of Christ in the Host
by the sense of reverence, exaltation, and joy that it caused in her soul.

There are many, many more facinating Eucharistic miracles in the lives of our Saints, Blesseds, and Servants of God... but the above should be more than sufficient to convey the divine and miraculous nature of the Blessed Sacrament.  The Host is indeed the Bread of Life, spoken about so clearly in Sacred Scriptures... and rightfully, Jesus in the Eucharist, is cause for us to rejoice and celebrate not just on the Feast of Corpus Christi, but every time we participate at Mass - Hallelujah!

"And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall
not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst."

~ Words of Jesus Christ, John 6:35


+  +  +  To read about other approved Eucharistic Miracles in the Catholic Church, click here.  +  +  +

3 comments:

  1. "On May 12, 1333, Imelda was assisting at a Mass". Do you mean assisting the priest by serving at the altar? If not exactly what do you mean? I have never heard of female altar servers being allowed prior to Vatican II.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello. Bl. Imelda was not an altar server. The words "assisting at Mass" is another way to describe our active participation in the Liturgy. Here's an example of a well-known saint using the words: "While assisting at holy Mass renew your faith. Have your mind elevated to the mystery that is happening before your eyes." - St. Padre Pio

      Delete
  2. Thank you for the clarification - I've never noticed that expression before.

    ReplyDelete

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