February 22, 2013

The Cathedral that Does Not House the Shroud

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, as it was formerly known, is located in Turin, Italy. It is located next to the chapel that houses the Shroud of Turin. The Cathedral itself once housed something quite sacred. For 131 years, from 1453 to 1584 it housed a large Consecrated Host, until that Host was ordered to be consumed by an order of the Holy See. As reported in an earlier posting (see the archives, 11-17-12), a wafer made from wheat flour begins to seriously deteriorate after only six months. This particular Host had remained intact for over a century.

There was a special history to that Host. It had come from the city of Exilles. Two soldiers had pillaged the church there and stolen various articles, including an ostensorioum that contained the Host. They travelled to Turin where they intended to sell their pilfered goods. They arrived in early evening, but in front of the Church of San Silvestro, their mule fell. All the goods packed on it were scattered to the ground, all the stolen goods, however, except the Host. It did not fall, but remained suspended in the air, emitting rays of light. People gathered and then Fr. Giovanni Galesio sent for Bishop Ludovico. He came along with a number of others. At the site, he fell to his knees in homage. Amid a solemn procession, the Host was transported to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist mentioned above.

The people in the area developed a name for the spectacle of light that had occurred. They called it the “Sun of Justice.” The Church of San Silvestro was given a new name as well. They called it “The Church of the Body of the Lord.” Hymns sung during Benediction services were also changed, in honor of the miracle.

Numerous documents have been preserved from the time that describe and refer to the event. Included among them are the statements of 10 laypeople who were among the first witnesses at the scene.

It is of course hard to believe that such an event occurred. It is also hard for many to believe the miracle of the sun at Fatima, unless perhaps you were one of the 70,000 who were there. This Lent, do not doubt that the ten witnesses, the priest, the Bishop and the townspeople of Turin all fell under some mass delusion, that they renamed their church to further a collective hoax or that hymns sung during times of reverence were based on deception. This Lent, as you look at the Host elevated at Mass, think of what it would have been like to have been in Turin, in 1453, at the time the mule stumbled.

(Based on an account found in Eucharistic Miracles, by Joan Carroll Cruz.)


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