Dan Burke is the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, the author of Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and a writer and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He also has a website on which he posted a story about an experience he had one day during adoration before the Real Presence.
Having suffered from “chronic and debilitating pain” for years, he resolved one day to spend an hour in prayer. It “took everything” he had to get out of his house and into his car. Still, he managed to get to the church. “Doubled over before the blessed sacrament,” he found it very difficult even to hold a seated position. He found it still more difficult not to pray rather than focus on his physical turmoil. He describes what happened next:
“I didn’t think I could make it another few minutes let alone an hour. I stayed engaged anyway. Unexpectedly, after about ten minutes I slowly began to be able to straighten up in the chair. I found myself able to focus beyond the pain. As the tension of anguished muscles began to lift, my body relaxed so that I could sit up and pray. With the pain slipping out of consciousness I prayed in painless peace. Not only was I able to sit up but I was strong and rested. I prayed for the remainder of the hour and beyond almost effortlessly.
“…I have never forgotten that transcendent transition from the inward isolation of self battling affliction to the complete absorption, ease, and selflessness in worship and prayer.
Beyond this event, I have regularly been surprised at what happens to me in adoration. It seems that distractions fade, discomfort disappears, and hours pass.”
Leo Schwager was born on May 19, 1924 in Switzerland. At age 11, he suffered injuries and memory losses after a traumatic fall. In 1945, another fall caused further brain injuries. He also contracted diphtheria. In the following years, he experienced blurred vision, slurred speech and complete paralysis of his left side. In 1951, after extensive testing, he was diagnosed with an advanced case of multiple sclerosis. His weight had declined to 103 pounds, he was completely bedridden and his health was steadily deteriorating.
On April 28, 1952, he left on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. He describes what happened to him there, during a procession of the Blessed Sacrament:
“Next the Bishop gave the Blessing of the Sick right in front of me. It was if an electric shock went over my whole body, from head to foot! I thought, ‘Good, now I can die in peace.’ I think I lost consciousness and everything became blurred.
“Then all of a sudden I found myself on my knees in front of the Bishop carrying the Blessed Sacrament! I felt wholly well, as if reborn, and all my pain had vanished.
“After the Bishop had finished blessing the sick and had entered the Rosary Basilica, I rose from my knees without any support and, accompanied by Dr. Jerger, returned to my bed in Accueil Notre Dame. Our pilgrimage doctors all examined me immediately. They could in no way explain what had just happened and despite my protests told me to stay there. I would have much preferred to go to the Grotto to pray! I prayed and thanked the Lord all through the night without sleeping a wink.”
The next morning he wanted something to eat, but the doctor said, “It’s a long while since you have had a normal meal. You must go carefully, giving your stomach time to readjust!” Despite this warning, he “headed off to the Swiss dining room and polished off everything I could lay hands on—milk, coffee, bread, butter, cheese, sausage! I downed enough for four men and suffered no consequences.”
That morning, he was examined by a team of 18 doctors at the Medical Bureau. He was questioned for four hours and then examined again in the afternoon.
During the examination, “I was told what happened: The doctor who followed behind the Bishop, and also some sick people who had been close to me, testified that I had been projected forcefully out of my wheelchair directly onto my knees! I did not rise up and kneel; I was ejected onto my knees! I’m sure it rocked the Bishop! I myself knew nothing of this. I came to consciousness on my knees.
He returned often over the next several years and was examined numerous times by doctors at the Medical Bureau. Six and a half years after his healing, his case was accepted by the Medical Bureau as “medically inexplicable.” During this time, the bishop of his diocese had convened a separate commission to examine his case. On December 8, 1960, the commission affirmed his cure was “miraculous.”
Excerpts taken from Healing Fire of Christ, by Paul Glynn, Paul (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2003) p. 75-83.
On June 2 1668, in the Church of Les Ulmes in western France, public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was held. The Sacred Host was placed in a monstrance and the service was begun. The hymn Pange Lingua was sung. Those gathered began to sing the stanza that runs as follows:
The Word as Flesh makes true bread
into flesh by a word
and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.
And if sense is deficient
to strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone suffices.
As they were singing, all present saw the Host replaced by an image. It was a man wearing a white tunic, with light brown hair that fell over his back. His face was luminous. His hands were crossed in front of him, one over the other. This event last more than fifteen minutes. It continued even though the monstrance was moved from the tabernacle to the altar, to allow the people to have a closer look at it.
After it was over, the pastor, Nicolas Nezan, sent a letter describing what had occurred to the Bishop, Henry Arnauld. He quickly ordered an inquiry. On June 25th, he published the pastor’s letter.
For 130 years, the church continued to house the miraculous Host. During the French Revolution, for fear that it would be profaned, the Host was devoutly consumed by the Vicar of Puy-Notre-Dame.
Source: “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” a Vatican international exhibition, as reported by The Real Presence Eucharistic Adoration Association, http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Lesulmes.pdf
Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey SS, CC used to often tell the following story. One day, an 8-year-old girl came up to him and said that Jesus spoke to her every time she received Holy Communion. Doubting this was really true, he asked that she seek proof for him. There was a certain man, a Catholic who had fallen away and even become an enemy of the Church. He asked that this man should reverse his ways and come to him for confession.
About a week later, Fr. Mateo was hearing confessions. The young girl told him that this man was coming to the church. As the priest was leaving the confessional, the man walked into the church, came over to Fr. Mateo and asked him to hear his confession. He said that it was his first one since the time he had been baptized. He did not understand it but something had come over him that morning and he suddenly understood the necessity of going to confession. Having so quickly been provided the very proof he asked, Father Mateo no longer doubted the young girl.
The girl also told Fr. Mateo other things. She said the Lord told her He would give this man graces to repent and mend his ways. He said that He would do the same for many other souls. He said, “Always ask Me for souls and I will give them to you, and tell Father Mateo to ask Me for souls. I will give them to him, too, but first you must become My missionary.”
She thought she was too young to be a missionary. Our Lord assured her that she would become His missionary but that she would have to do certain things for Him. “I want you,” said Jesus, “to earn three golden coins a day.” Our Lord then explained what He meant by golden coins:
1. prayers to Him for souls,
2. little sacrifices, especially acts of obedience, and
3. a promise: “never to miss Mass or Holy Communion through your own fault and to visit Me often in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Fr. Mateo used to tell this story in encouraging his listeners to try and earn the same golden coins.
The following account comes from St. John Vianney, popularly known as the Cure d’ Ars (1786-1859), known for numerous miracles:
“One day, two Protestant ministers came here, who did not believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord. I said to them, ‘Do you think that a piece of bread could detach itself, and go, of its own accord, to place itself on the tongue of a person who came near to receive it?’ ‘No. ‘ ‘Then it is not bread. ‘ There was a man who had doubts about the Real Presence, and he said, ‘What do we know about it? It is not certain. What is consecration? What happens on the altar at that moment?’ But he wished to believe, and he prayed the Blessed Virgin to obtain faith for him. Listen attentively to this. I do not say that this happened somewhere, but I say that it happened to myself. At the moment when this man came up to receive Holy Communion, the Sacred Host detached Itself from my fingers while I was still a good way off, and went off Itself and placed Itself upon the tongue of that man. “*
*Monnin, M. L’Abbe, Spirit of the Cure d’Ars (London: Burns, Lambert & Oates 1865), p. 34-35
Michael Forest was married, with several children. Raised as a Baptist, he had been taught that the instruction to “do this in memory of me,” given to the Apostles at the Last Supper, was quite straightforward and simple. It meant only that, from time to time, they should break bread to remember their last night together, a time of peace when He was still among us. It did not mean that the bread would be the means by which He would in fact still be among us. It did not mean that at all, contrary to what He said in John 6: “Amen, Amen I tell you. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Although many of his disciples turned away at this, He did not retract any of the stark meaning contained in these words. This teaching caused many doubts in Michael. Although he had converted to Catholicism and accepted the Church’s view on the Eucharist, he did not believe this in his heart. On June 9, 1996, that changed in a profound way.
That day was a Sunday. He was preparing to go to Mass with his wife and children. As he was buckling his oldest son into his seat, his wife accidentally closed the sliding door of their Dodge Caravan across three fingers of his left hand. After he managed to free himself, Michael could observe the damage. Blood had been “ejected through the skin” on two of his fingers and was dripping onto his palm. Both of those two fingers were swollen to about twice their normal width and all three fingers had been “flattened” in some areas.
After deciding they should drop off their children at his brother and sister-in-law’s home and then proceed to the hospital, Michael suddenly received a “compulsion” to pray. Wrapping his hand in a paper towel and face towel, he announced his intention to his dismayed wife. With her in their family room, he prayed that his hand would be healed and that he could continue his career as a professional pianist/keyboardist.
After concluding the time of prayer, he told her that they were going to Mass anyway. She responded, “Michael, what is wrong with you.” Despite the incredulity of his wife, brother and sister-in-law, they did drop off their children and then go to Mass.
As they listened to the homily given by the priest, Michael was struck by the forcefulness with which he spoke about the Real Presence in the Eucharist. This seemed an answer to his recent prayers, some answers to his doubts on the Eucharist.
As they had arrived late for Mass, they had sat in the very back of the church. When the time came for Communion, Michael was the last person in line. As he drew near the priest, with his hand wrapped in a blood-soaked towel, he “heard” a command to “kneel.” He recalls his reaction at the time. He asked, “Did I just think that?” Then he heard “kneel” once again, more forecefully than before. This was an odd experience for him, as he had never “heard” anything like this before or since.
Still, when his time came, and as the priest glanced at his hand somewhat quizically, Michael asked whether it was all right to kneel. Receiving an affirmative response, he did.
Upon standing up, he felt a “vague sensation of warmth.” As he walked back to his pew, he kept his head bowed and eyes down, fearing that some may think he was haughtily trying to seem more pious than everyone else. Back in the pew, he was looking at his wife while unwrapping his hand and quietly asking her for some fresh tissues. She said, “Oh my goodness, look at your hand.” Then she added: “Look at the blood. It’s disappearing.” He describes what he saw: “The blood that had collected under the surface of my skin appeared to be receding back into my fingers before our eyes, to the point where it was barely visible anymore.”
After Mass, they met the priest and explained what had happened. He asked them whether they knew what day it was. Michael responded that, as far as he knew, it was just another Sunday. The priest then informed them it was the Feast of Corpus Christi, the day the Church celebrates the real presence of His body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. He also told them of a strong feeling he had that day about his homily needing to be an important one. He did not understand at the time, but now he did.
Then two older women approached. They thanked Michael for kneeling like he had to receive Communion, in front of the whole church. His reverence had touched them. Upon hearing that, the priest asked if they understood what was taking place. He explained that this happening was not just for Michael, but for the whole church.
That was Sunday, June 9, 1996 for Michael Forest, his wife and their church.
His story, given in fuller detail can be read at https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5864.
On August 14, 1730, thieves stole a golden ciborium from the Church of Saint Francis in Siena, Italy, about 45 miles south of Florence. At the time, the chalice also contained a large number of consecrated Hosts. Those in charge estimated the contents as 348 whole Hosts and six half Hosts. Three days later, on August 17th, that exact number of Hosts was found in the alms box of the Church of Saint Mary of Provenzano. They were of the same size and bore the same mark from the baking irons that other hosts at Saint Francis bore. As the alms box was only opened once a year, the Hosts were found among the dust and cobwebs.They were cleaned and taken back to the Church of Saint Francis in a solemn procession the next day.
With the passage of time, the clergy were surprised to notice that the Hosts did not change in appearance and even emitted a pleasant scent.
Fifty years later, an examination was conducted. On April 14, 1780, the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Father Carlo Vipera, tasted one of the Hosts and found it to be fresh an incorrupt.
In 1789, another examination was conducted, this time by Archbishop Tiberio Borghese and a number of dignitaries. Hosts were inspected under a microscope and were found to be perfectly intact, with no sign of deterioration.
For comparison purposes, the Archbishop ordered several unconsecrated hosts to be placed in a sealed box. Ten years later, they were examined. They were found to be withered and disfigured. In 1850, when examined once more, the hosts were found reduced to particles of a dark yellow color.
In 1914, Pope St. Pius X authorized scientific testing, attended by many professors of health, chemistry and pharmaceutics. Acid and starch tests were performed on a fragment from one of the Hosts. They indicated a normal starch content. Microscopic tests indicated that the Hosts were made from roughly sifted wheat flour. It was acknowledged that unleavened bread, prepared in a normal fashion and not kept in an airtight, antiseptic container would remain intact for only a few years. The stolen Hosts had been prepared in a normal manner, and they had been kept in an unsealed container. Accordingly, they should have deteriorated more than 150 years earlier. Professor Siro Grimaldi, professor of chemistry at the University of Siena and director of the Municipal Chemical Laboratory, was the chief chemical examiner during the tests. Summing up their findings, he declared, “The holy Particles of unleavened bread represent an example of perfect preservation … a singular phenomenon that inverts the natural law of the conservation of organic material. It is a fact unique in the annals of science.”
Additional tests were done in 1922, with similar results.
Enrico Medi, noted Italian scientist, who was appointed as the Director of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics in 1949 and as the Vice-President of the European Atomic Energy Community in 1956, stated: “This direct intervention from God is the miracle…accomplished and maintained for centuries, to testify to the permanent reality of Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrament”.
The Hosts have been adored and venerated by St. John Bosco and Pope John XXIII (in 1954, when he was the Patriarch of Venice). On September 14, 1980, Pope John Paul II visited Siena and, with regard to the Hosts, declared, “It is the Real Presence!”
The Hosts are displayed publicly to this day. They are brought out on the 17th of each month, in commemoration of the day they were found in 1730. Each year, on the feast of Corpus Christi, they are placed in a monstrance and carried in a procession through the streets of the city, still incorrupt, more than 280 years after they were consecrated.
(For a fuller account, see Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz.)
At the beginning of Mass, I also saw a little boy who had a terrible facial deformity. At the end of Mass, his mother came running up to me with her child in her arms. She said, “Sister, look at my little boy.” The boy’s face was healed.*
*McKenna, Briege, O.S.C. and Libersat, Henry, Miracles Do Happen (Cincinnati, Ohio, Servant Books, 1996) p. 60.
In 1824, Mrs. Ann Mattingly, of Washington, D.C…had been suffering from cancer for seven years…She lost the use of her left arm; her back and shoulders became uelcerated in consequence of her long confinement to her bed; and symptoms of approaching dissolution began to appear…In concert with Prince Hohenlohe and her pastor, the Rev. Stephen L. Dubuisson, she began a novena in honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and at the end of the novena she received the Blessed Sacrament. When she was about to receive Holy Communion, believing that the time had come when she must either die or be restored to health, she uttered these words: “Lord Jesus! Thy Holy will be glorified.” Her tongue was so rough and parched from fever that she was unable to swallow the Host for five or six minutes, but the moment she swallowed it, all pain instantly left her; her body was entirely healed, and she found herself in perfect health. She immediately arose and dressed herself, and after having knelt down to give thanks to God, she received hundreds of visitors who came to congratulate her and to witness the miracle. These facts are all attested by a number of competent witnesses, and anyone who desires to examine the evidence can find a full statement of the case in the works of Bishop England.*
*Mueller, Michael, C.S.S.R., The Blessed Eucharist Our Greatest Treasure (Charlotte, N.C., Tan Books, 2011) p. 170-71.
Abbott Henry Lacombe was the pastor of Saint-Andre, a parish church on the island of La Reunion, a French colony east of Madagascar. He was witness to an event that he put into the following report:
“It was January 26, 1902. We were celebrating perpetual adoration (the Forty hours devotion). The Most Holy Sacrament was exposed in the tabernacle. I began to celebrate the Mass. After the elevation, at the moment of the Our Father, my eyes were lifted toward the Host and I saw a bright halo around the rays of the monstrance. I continued to recite the prayers of the Mass with great agitation in my soul but which I tried to overcome. We came to the moment for Communion and again I looked toward the monstrance. This time I saw a human face, with lowered eyes and a crown of thorns on the forehead. What moved me the most was the dolorous expression painted on the face. The eyelashes were long and thick. I tried not to let on to the presence of the turmoil agitating inside of me.
“After Mass, I went to the sacristy and summoned the older children from the choir to go to the altar and closely observe the monstrance. The children raced back and told me: ‘Father, we see the head of a man in the Host. It is the good Lord revealing Himself!’ I understood then that the vision was authentic.
“A young man of 16, Adam de Villiers, who had studied in a college in France, also arrived. I said to him as well: ‘Go in the church and see if you notice something strange in the tabernacle’. The young student went to the sacristy and returned immediately, saying: ‘Father, it is the good Lord who appears in the Host. I see His divine face’. Since then, all my doubts disappeared.
“Slowly the entire town went to the church to see the miracle. Journalists and people from the capital of Saint Denis also arrived. The face on the Host suddenly became animated and the crown of thorns disappeared. I used every possible precaution, and fearing the effects from the rays of light, I had all the candles extinguished and the shutters closed. The phenomenon became even more clear. There was a young artist among the visitors who faithfully reproduced the face in the Host. Later, the vision changed again and a crucifix appeared which covered the entire Host from top to bottom. After the Eucharistic blessing and recital of the Tantum Ergo, the vision disappeared.”
(Source: “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” a Vatican international exhibition, as reported by The Real Presence Eucharistic Adoration Association, http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Reunion.pdf.)