December 3, 2018

A Wish Granted

Santarem is a city in the central region of Portugal. It is remembered still to this today as the site of one of the greatest Eucharistic miracles in the history of the Catholic Church. According to an official record of the event commissioned by King Alfonso IV, that event took place in the year 1266.

Only one year earlier, in 1265, a lesser-known event also took place. It seems that two boys from the neighborhood wanted to become what we would refer to today as altar boys. A Dominican priest by the name of Fr. Bernard was given charge over them for this purpose.

Every morning, after Mass, they would retire to a small side chapel to eat a little meal, often some bread and a piece of fruit. They would spend the entire day at the cloister, learning grammar and the Catechism from Fr. Bernard. Thus, they needed to eat something to sustain them for the time to be spent there.

It was also the case that the side chapel contained a depiction of the Blessed Mother, holding the Babe Jesus in her arms. Each day they would greet the Infant as they came in. It came to be that the Infant would often ask them to give Him some of their food, which they proceeded to do, and thus, they would share their meal together.

Eventually, they informed Fr. Bernard of these happenings. He was astonished, but did not doubt they were being truthful. They also had a question for Fr. Bernard. The Child takes some of their food, but never does He bring any food to give them. They inquired, “what shall they do?”

Fr. Bernard’s advice was to ask, the next time this happened, to dine with the Child in His Father’s house. The children did as was suggested. The next day, after having made their request, the Child replied, “You could not give me a greater pleasure than to make such a petition. Yes, I invite you as you desire. Inform your master, that he prepare himself by the Feast of the Ascension. On that day, as you wish it, I will entertain all three.”

The children did as they were told and related all of this to Fr. Bernard. He then prepared himself for what was to come.

On the Feast of the Ascension, after having said Mass, Fr. Bernard prostrated himself on the steps of the altar, signaling to the boys that they should do the same.

After the brothers of the monastery had their dinner, they went into the church as was their custom. There, they saw Fr. Bernard and the two boys, still lying on the steps. They first thought all three slept, but soon discovered that all three were dead; they had passed to their eternal reward in the Father’s house.

The brothers turned to the confessor of Fr. Bernard and asked whether he could shed any light on the passing of all three at the same time, including two so young, without any external injury or apparent cause.

The confessor was aware of the circumstances recounted above, and he boldly told all assembled of these matters.

The bodies of all three, with great ceremony, joy and thanksgiving, were laid in the same grave, and a plaque, bearing the substance of this story, was placed there.

Shapcote, Emily Mary, Legends of the Blessed Sacrament (London, Burns & Oates) p. 43-44, and “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” a Vatican international exhibition, as reported by The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association,


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