8

In the miracle of Lanciano in the eighth century, not only the substance but also the accidents of the bread and wine became that of flesh and blood. Chemically, it was identical to human flesh and blood. The elements were preserved, and later tested and found to be AB-type blood and human cardiac tissue.

In such a miracle (of which there are others), does the Eucharist continue as normal? Or is it wrong to partake of the flesh and blood that has the accidents of flesh and blood?

  • there are examples of "partaking" testified to here: najumary.or.kr/English/signs/eucharisticmiracle.htm (not saying that I personally believe that these are actual mircles) – DavePhD Feb 11 '15 at 17:04
  • @DavePhD If you add some references to people partaking of the sacrament in a bleeding host miracle, I think I can accept your answer. (That particular source seems kinda sketchy, but I bet you can find better ones.) – Mr. Bultitude Feb 13 '15 at 16:03
5

Certainly in the case of Lanciano, the Euchartist did not continue as normal. According to Father Saunder's The Miracle of Lanciano

This time, when the monk pronounced the words of consecration, the host was miraculously changed into flesh and the wine into blood. The monk was awestruck. Weeping joyously, he regained his composure. He called the congregation around the altar and said, O fortunate witnesses, to whom the Blessed God, to confound my unbelief, has wished to reveal Himself visible to our eyes! Come, brethren, and marvel at our God, so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our Most Beloved Christ. Those who witnessed the miracle soon spread the news throughout the surrounding area.

Shortly after the occurrence, the Blood coagulated into five globules of different sizes, but the Flesh remained the same. The archbishop ordered an investigation. The testimony of witnesses was recorded. The Flesh and Blood appeared to be human flesh and blood. The archbishop sent a scale for the weighing of the globules: each individual globule weighed the same as the other individual ones (although different in size) or as all five together or as any other combination. Eventually, the Flesh and the globules of Blood were placed in a special ivory reliquary, but not hermetically sealed.

On the other hand, this doesn't imply that it is wrong to continue as normal. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:

When such apparition takes place, the same reverence is shown to it as was shown at first

The Summa Theologica (Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)

  • 1
    I followed the link to read that section of the Summa. One thing remains unclear to me. When he says "reverence," is there evidence that he's referring to participation (eating) in the sacrament, or is it possible that he simply means something akin to Eucharistic adoration? – Mr. Bultitude Feb 10 '15 at 20:40
  • Basically he is responding to objections that, if such a miricle as your question describes occurs, Christ's body is not truely present. He is responding that if the mircle takes place Christ is still truely present, and the same reverence needs to be shown. So, no, he is not referring to eating. The reference has a lot of information on the general topic Eucharist mircles, but it is not directly saying eat or don't eat. He also says "[it is] sometimes enclosed, and, by order of many bishops, preserved in a pyx, which it would be wicked to think of Christ under His proper semblance". – DavePhD Feb 10 '15 at 21:09
  • So, would you say that his statement about "reverence" implies but doesn't state that it's permissible to continue as normal (by partaking of the elements)? – Mr. Bultitude Feb 10 '15 at 21:11
  • That's my interpretation, but it seems historically if the mircle occurs people want others to know of the miricle and there is some attempt of preservation and investigation. – DavePhD Feb 10 '15 at 21:19
  • That makes sense, but I'm holding out hope for more direct evidence. – Mr. Bultitude Feb 10 '15 at 21:20
4
+100

The short answer is “no;” the products of a Eucharistic miracle such as the one in Lanciano, no longer have the substantial and sacramental presence of Christ.

A little background on how the Eucharist “works” in the Catholic and Orthodox churches

For the benefit of readers, here is a very short primer on the belief shared by Catholics and the Orthodox (and the Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, Polish National Catholic Church, etc.) on the Eucharist.

These churches all believe that when a priest or bishop consecrates the bread and wine, these species are converted into Jesus Christ. In Western terminology (not commonly used in the East), we say that the very substance of the bread and wine is converted into the substance of Jesus. In other words, after the consecration (or epiclesis, in the Eastern rites), the sacred species cease to be bread and wine, and from that moment on are Jesus Christ. In Western terminology, this conversion is called transubstantiation. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] 1376.)

The Eucharistic species, however, retain all of the properties and appearances (or “accidents”) of the bread and wine; hence, they are indistinguishable from bread or wine chemically and physically. (See Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Eucharist, Can. 2; see also Summa theologiae [S.Th.], III, q. 75, a.5.)

It is important to note that the substantial presence of Christ ceases as soon as they cease to have the appearance of bread or wine. For example, once the bread is dissolved into a paste, or the wine is diluted, the Real Presence ceases. (See CCC 1377, as well as S.Th. III Pars, q. 77, a. 4, responsum, and my answer to the question During communion, when does the wafer stop being Jesus' body?)

Regarding the Eucharistic miracles

In the case of miracles such as those at Lanciano (i.e., in which either the bread becomes actual human flesh or the wine becomes human blood), it is clear that the appearance of bread or wine has ceased, albeit in an extraordinary way. The object in question now has the properties of human flesh or human blood, not bread or wine.

It follows that these objects no longer have the sacramental presence of Christ—however extraordinary they are.

  • 1
    Just out of curiosity, how does that square with Jesus' command to his faithful in the bread of life discourse in John 6? Is it that due to the miraculous nature of such a change, it is believed that Jesus is communicating in a different way to the faithful? (He used miracles as recorded in the Gospel for a variety of ends to do with faith and being faithful ...) – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 '16 at 11:58
  • @KorvinStarmast In John 6, Jesus commands his disciples to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood, which Catholics (and Orthodox) interpret as the Eucharist. Catholics are not, of course, required to believe either in Eucharistic miracles in general, nor in particular miracles, such as the one in Lanciano. If God performs such a miracle, it will be in order to strengthen the faith of concrete people in concrete times. But they are not strictly necessary for faith. (I haven’t been down to Lanciano yet, but I have seen the stained corporal in Orvieto.) (Not sure I answered the question....) – AthanasiusOfAlex Sep 28 '16 at 18:31
  • @KorvinStarmast If you think about it, it’s a good thing that the Eucharist retains all of the properties of bread and wine. Otherwise the Body and Blood of Christ would essentially be inedible (which would make his command difficult to follow....) – AthanasiusOfAlex Sep 28 '16 at 18:34
  • That makes sense, and yes you answered the question. (When we visited Orvieto back in 98, our visit was more "touristic" in character than faith driven. Looks like we missed an opportunity...) – KorvinStarmast Sep 28 '16 at 19:02
  • What happens in the case when a part of a Host remains bread (in the sense of its accidents) (as in Lanciano case)? That part of Host is valid Eucharistic substance and according to CCC 1377 Christ is still present there. – abukaj Jun 4 '18 at 16:28

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