What is the Catholic view related to the wedding of Cana being a type of foreshadowing of pre-consecrated wine being turned into the blood of Christ at the time of Eucharistic consecration?

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    Adding C2H5OH (ethanol otherwise known as ethyl alcohol) plus various ketones, antioxidants, etc is not 'transubstantiation'. The chemical term is 'addition'. Nothing is 'trans'. Substance is being miraculously added to water. Nor is that substance of human origin, but purely of vegetable origin. Nor does it result in any kind of spiritual essence. It just makes a pleasant drink, is all.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 20:09
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    @Nigel, how do you know that Jesus added chemicals to the water? Couldn't it have been more like something analogous to the description of the incarnation in the Athanasian Creed: "...not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God."? And, I didn't ask for a Protestant understanding. I asked for a Catholic view.
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 20:22
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    I am not giving any form of reply, Catholic or Protestant. I am struggling to understand your question. I fail to understand how there is any similarity or any spiritual bearing between components being added (albeit miraculously ) to water, to turn it into drinkable wine (which has no spiritual benefit) and the concept of 'transubstantiation'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 20:59
  • @Nigel, transubstantiation is a philosophical understanding. I'm not asking if the wine at Cana, created by Jesus, was sacramental. That question was asked here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/35198/…
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 21:04
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    @NigelJ, I think you are missing the forest for the trees. Any lay person would consider the Miracle at Cana a "transformation". Moreover, I think God anticipated you. Note that "they filled [the jars] up to the brim". Even assuming only 1% ABV, adding an additional 1% volume to jars already "filled ... up to the brim" would cause them to overflow. Ergo, some of the water must have been actually transformed (or at least miraculously removed) 🙂. Anyway, point being, both are considered "transformations", and nit-picking that is missing the point. (And blood is also mostly water.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:33

2 Answers 2


In Catholicism, the miracle at Cana is frequently associated with the Sacrament of Marriage as one popular choice of Gospel Readings because:

  • Jesus and Mary were there: the couple inviting them to be present
  • The couple can liken themselves as the earthen vessels filled with wine as Jesus gift of himself to the couple

thus symbolically blessing Christian marriage.

In addition, the turning of water into wine is commonly conceived as

a foretaste of Jesus changing wine into his blood at the Last Supper and the offering of his blood on the cross.

(source: a Catholic pamphlet on the Sacrament of Marriage)

The general feel of the narration of the miracle suggests that the wine appeared to be "the best" and "expensive" (according to the master of ceremonies, which could have been a wine connoisseur as well), but remains a regular wine chemically.

I maybe wrong here, but I don't think there is ever any suggestion that the miracle is conceived as a transubstantiation, but instead as a foretaste of the Last Supper. Even if it is conceived as transubstantiation your question is moot because real wine has about 85% water. If the water at Cana were transubstantiated then it simply means that the original water was completely replaced with the water that is naturally part of wine.

It's noteworthy that during Catholic mass the priest added water to the wine to represent Christ's humanity (water) and Christ's divinity (wine) (incarnation) while the mingling of both recalls

Christ’s Passion when the soldiers pierced his side with a spear and out flowed blood and water (John 19:34), thus signifying baptism and Eucharist.

THUS, I don't think you can have BOTH incarnation AND transubstantiation symbolism in the miracle of Cana, because the story didn't say that water was added after the original water became wine.

  • I gave you an upvote. I'm trying to wrap my brain around the concept of transubstantiation. I think part of the problem is that the term was coined to illustrate a philosophical enigma. Latin "trans" so as to change + "substantia" as in substance. At any rate, the broader view for thinking about this issue was prompted by a comment from Lucian on StackExchange, here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/34338/…
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 0:03
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    @Jess I think I should have added that for a miracle to be properly called transubstantiation in the Catholic Eucharist sense, doesn't the original appearance need to remain? That's another reason why we don't see Miracle of Cana and Moses's plague #1 to be called "transubstantiation". Therefore I agree with Ken Graham's comment of Lucian's answer. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 0:09
  • one might argue that the original appearance of water remained in the miracle wine, even though the water might have changed on a molecular level.
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 0:14
  • @Jess If you conceive it that way, again, the usual concept of transubstantiation doesn't work, since it requires a complete replacement: no original water should remain. It's a species by species replacement. The water in the wine is an integral part of the new species. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 0:25
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    I am reminded of how C.S. Lewis once said about the sacrament: “I hope I do not offend God by making my Communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.”
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 1:56

What is the Catholic view of water being turned into wine at Cana?

Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared... - Nehemiah 8:10

Ezra’s instructions to the people show us that God does not forbid us from enjoying the good things in life. He wants us to be happy! However, God expects us to be grateful for all that He has given us and to generously share our blessings with those who are in need. Now here’s the hard part – to share all we have without expecting anything in return.

There are several takes on this from a Catholic perspective.

  • The Wedding of Cana witnessed Jesus’s first public miracle, where Jesus turned water into wine.
  • This miracle was implied by Mary last request of her Son and her last recorded words in the Gospels: “Do whatever he asks!”
  • The wine was superior in quality to the wine previously employed at the wedding.
  • Christ changed water into wine and later he changed wine into his Sacred Blood. Moses changed water into blood!

The importance of the first miracle The first miracle of Jesus’ turning water into wine itself is a picture of all that he came to do. Making wine takes time, even few weeks. But for Jesus everything is possible within the split of a second and Jesus demonstrated His power over nature. This shows the power of Jesus and His authority over all creation. Jesus is concerned about us and he is ready to help us in our needs. For those who are worn out, tired, devoid of joy, and thirsting for righteousness, Jesus is powerful enough to banish their fears and to gladden their hearts and to fill until the last. Men can fill water jars; only God can turn water into wine. We are called to do the ordinary normal activity which we can do and when we invite God into our lives what takes months and years for us to achieve, within moments He achieves. Jesus turned water into wine at His mother’s request. We can see that Mary, Jesus’ mother had faith in her Son, when we seek Mary’s intercession, be assured, it is granted.

“He chose to begin the Gospel by this first sign of the chang­ing of water into wine. He chose to end His ministry of preaching by changing wine into Blood. He performed the first miracle at a banquet, and the last, the Eucharist, at another banquet. He changed water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, and at the Last Supper, which was as the wedding feast of this Sacred Spouse, He, transformed bread into His Flesh and wine into His Blood.” ~ St. Francis de Sales.

The Miracle of the Transformation

Is there any wonder if Jesus was questioning what business it was of His that the wedding party ran out of wine? He knew what He came here to earth to do and a few others knew it too. Certainly, his mother knew, and even his cousin John the Baptist knew, because he expressed his knowledge of Jesus as bridegroom, as can be found in the very next chapter of the Gospel of John (3:29).

He performed that miracle that day at Cana to show other people a little more about who He was and what He was going to be for them and for us. Certainly, it helped bolster his disciples’ faith (John 2:11).

I wonder if the disciples were remembering the miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana the night they had their last supper with Jesus, when He told them, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20)

Why Jesus would care about turning water into wine, apart from Mary’s encouragement to do so? Christ more than once referred to himself as the bridegroom.

Pope Francis expressed another side of this miracle: wine is employed as a means of joy in celebration.

In an in-depth look at Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the Wedding Feast in Cana, Pope Francis pointed to several key moments in the scene that illuminate our understanding of Christ.

One of these key moments, he said, comes with Mary’s observation that the newlywed couple’s resources have depleted and that, at a certain point, “they have no wine.”

“How is it possible to celebrate the wedding and have a party if you lack what the prophets indicated was a typical element of the messianic banquet?” the Pope asked.

While water is necessary to live, “wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the feast,” Francis said, noting that “a wedding feast lacking wine embarrasses the newlyweds: Imagine finishing the wedding feast drinking tea! It would be an embarrassment!”

Pope on Jesus’ First Miracle: Wine Represents Joy, and Cana Began Church’s Faith

Now the wine produced at Cana was of a superior quality for the wedding party, I imagine that the multiplication of bread miracles by Our Lord produced excellent bread at that also!

I am sure some Catholic theologians have expressed additional insights on why water was turned into wine at Cana.

  • 1
    “How is it possible to celebrate the wedding and have a party if you lack what the prophets indicated was a typical element of the messianic banquet?” the Pope asked." Indeed. That makes me think that the wine that Jesus made fulfilled the expectations of Isaiah 25:6. That passage speaks of the finest of wines (i.e. well aged) being at the final messianic venue. The wedding of Cana was a partial dress rehearsal of what is to come.
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 19:07

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