Skip to comments.Doubting Thomases(Eucharist); the Pitfalls of Folly(Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 06/11/2009 12:39:28 PM PDT by stfassisi
ROME, JUNE 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- This week the Catholic world celebrates one of its defining feasts, Corpus Domini. In 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted this holiday in the wake of the miracle at Bolsena, one of the most famous Eucharistic miracles of all time.
Peter of Prague, a priest troubled by doubt in the Transubstantiation (the doctrine that at the consecration the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ) prayed to God for help in believing. The Lord responded with a miracle. As Father Peter uttered the words of consecration, the host in his fingers dripped blood. This astonishing sign helped to bolster the faith of an age assailed by doubt and heresy.
The texts of many of the best-known Latin Eucharistic hymns, such as the Tantum ergo and the Lauda Sion were written by St. Thomas Aquinas to fittingly celebrate this great feast. And while many areas of Italy celebrate this day with great pomp and processions -- in nearby Genazzano the streets are lined with floral mosaics -- the most important procession is that of Rome where the Holy Father celebrates Mass at St. John Lateran and then processes with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
Although the holy day was instituted to celebrate the miracle of Bolsena, there are many documented Eucharistic miracles all over the world. In 2005, The Real Presence Association produced a catalogue of the Vatican exhibition The Eucharistic Miracles in the World to illustrate how the Real Presence in the Eucharist has manifested itself around the globe.
In Rome, there have been two miracles at 1,000 years distance. The first took place in the age of Gregory the Great and the second during the reign of Pope Paul V Borghese.
In 595, Pope Gregory was celebrating Mass in a Roman church. When it came time for consecration, the Roman noblewoman who had baked the bread for the Eucharist began to laugh in disbelief that the fruit of her oven could become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pope Gregory, dismayed at her lack of faith, refused her Communion, but as he prayed over the bread, it transformed visibly into flesh. The woman fell to her knees repentant. The relics of this miracle are now in Andechs, Germany, although a damaged fresco by Pomarancio recounts the story in the portico of the Church of St. Gregory on the Celian Hill.
Romes most celebrated Eucharistic miracle, however, took place on the Esquiline Hill, in one of the oldest churches in the city. Tradition has it that St. Peter found hospitality in the home of Senator Pudens, father of Sts. Praxedes and Pudenziana, who famously collected the blood of the martyrs.
This prestigious site was soon converted into a church and to this day contains the oldest Christian mosaics in the world. This basilica enjoyed the patronage of many great churchmen and was beautified with paintings, mosaics and luxurious pavement over the centuries. But its most wondrous gift was the privilege of hosting a miracle in 1610.
While celebrating Mass in the Caetani chapel of the church, a disbelieving priest dropped the Host after consecration. (Some versions say he let it fall on purpose). The Host fell upon the steps, spilling blood onto the marble. To this day, the relics of this miracle can still be seen in the form of the bloodstains on the steps.
A common factor among the stories of these miracles is doubt. Anguished doubt, ridiculing doubt or disrespectful doubt plagued each of the recipients of these miraculous visions. Rarely has there been more confusion and certainty than in our present day, and these miracles demonstrate how God tries to help us overcome our dark hours so we can proclaim with St. Thomas the Apostle, My Lord and my God.
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Thank you for this article. I do not have the religious education some of you were graced with and articles such as this are a major source of edification for me.
The translation of this used in the 1940 Hymnal is such a wonderfully compact and poetic statement of this most basic of Christian truths, and to the nature of sacraments in general:
Therefore we before him bending,
This great sacrament revere.
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here.
Faith our outward sense befriending,
Makes our inward vision clear.