December 24, 2014

He Wanted to Go Back to Cowley

In 1946, Fr. Gino Violini was assigned to St. Joseph’s, a small, wooden mission church in Cowley, a village near the base of the Canadian Rockies. It was a poor parish with few people who would come to church. At his first Sunday Mass, nine people were present. His first Christmas collection raised a grand total of $1.13. Fr. Violini had little to live on, slept in a rectory where snow came through the walls and became rather dejected. He sought to be transferred, but his requests were declined.

After one of them was turned down, Fr. Violini headed to the church for morning prayers on the Feast of Corpus Christi. He was surprised, however, to find the church ransacked. The front door was off its hinges, statues inside had been destroyed and the tabernacle had been broken open. Consecrated hosts had been strewn about. He picked them up one by one and, after counting them, found that one was missing. The large Benediction Host was not there.

He contacted Fr. Harrigan at the nearby Crowsnest deanery who organized a search party. Two thousand people joined in, but none from Cowley itself. They seached along a main highway and in parts of various villages in the area, without success.

Then, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police picked up two suspects, in Cowley. Fr. Violini offered to drop all charges against them if they would help him find the Host. They admitted having had the Host at one time, but said they threw it out of their truck window so that it could not be used as evidence against them. They then all got into a police cruiser and headed for the area.

Fr. Violini wondered how the searchers had not found it by the side of the road. As it had been raining, he thought perhaps it had dissolved. If they did find It, It would likely be in poor condition.

As they arrived at the spot, east of the village of Bellevue, each of them saw something that stopped them short. They saw colored rays of light emanating from a center point elevated off the ground. They saw the Host Itself at the center of those rays. Fr. Violini exited the car before it had even stopped and ran toward It. Sergeant Parsons ran after him. They both fell to their knees, Sergeant Parsons doing so in a pool of mud.

Fr. Violini observed that the Host looked fresh and white, without any signs of damage. As he reached up to take possession of It, everyone there heard a voice say, “Father Gino, please take me back to Cowley.”

After this incident, Sergeant Parsons, his wife, his children and two of his constables from Pincher Creek, asked for instruction in the Catholic faith. Catholics in the area began to return to the church. During Mass, the local beer hall would shut down and many of the patrons, even those who were not Catholic, would carry their bar stools to the church and listen to Fr. Violini’s homilies. They even had to remove the pot-bellied stove in the church to make more room for all the people who were now coming.

Source: “Canada’s Eucharistic Miracle,” an article published by the Society of St. Pius X in Canada, which may be found at


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