March 5, 2013

Clenched Fists at First

It is 1831. A grand procession through the streets of Breslau, Germany is being made, with the Holy Eucharist as its focus. Faithful are prostrating themselves on the ground before it.

Nearby, a number of others are slinging taunts and ridicule at the specter of people worshipping a small piece of dry bread. That night, a number of these people gather in a dining hall. They eat and drink heavily and confirm with one another a plan. They will procure one of these pieces of bread and make sport of it. They try to coax the sexton of the church to assist them, but he refuses, at first. Goaded by his wife, and persuaded by thirty pieces of gold, he relents. The sexton went to the church and returned, placing a Sacred Host on the table before them. They struck at it with clenched fists and more. The frenzy grew.

Then it stopped. A new clamor arose. Those present looked at the table, which was now covered in blood, so much blood, that pieces of the Host were floating on it. So great was this new tumult that police heard it and came to investigate. The news of what happened spread quickly throughout the town that very night.

The next morning, a priest arrived. Amid a solemn procession with prayers and hymns, the table was carried to the church.

Some of the unbelievers converted to the Catholic faith as a result of this episode. The sexton and his wife both hung themselves.

The mayor of the city was named John Meyer. He attested to the events stated above. A record of them is preserved in the archives of the city hall.

As the story given above is read, one might be inclined to doubt the incidents reported. Yet, when the part is reached where both the sexton and his wife hung themselves, pause must assuredly be felt. People do not hang themselves over things that have not happened.

This Lent, let us not doubt. Let us believe. Let us rejoice.

(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)


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