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SALT LAKE CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A month-long investigation into a miraculous "bleeding Host" in Salt Lake City has concluded, and results show no actual miracle took place.
Following reports in November from the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Kearns, Utah that a consecrated Host appeared to be bleeding, an ad hoc committee designated by the diocese of Salt Lake City undertook an investigation of the claims.
A summary published Wednesday (but dated Friday, December 18) by committee chairman Msgr. M. Francis Mannion states that the "thorough investigation has concluded that the Host did not bleed, but the change of appearance in the host was due to red bread mold."
Monsignor Mannion discusses in detail the timeline of events leading to the final conclusion, which began in November, when the consecrated Host was returned to the parish priest after it had been accidentally given to a child who had not yet made his First Communion. The priest, in conformity with canon law, placed the Host in a container of water to dissolve.
After three days, a blood-like substance began to appear on the Host, and word of the alleged miracle quickly spread, resulting in several days of public veneration before the investigative committee formed by diocesan administrator Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw took posssession of it.
The committee was said to consist of "individuals with expertise in Catholic theology, canon law, molecular biology and ministry."
Monsignor Mannion notes that "in an expeditious but careful manner the committee enlisted the services of a competent and credible scientist to conduct controlled testing of the Host" and that great "care was taken to ensure the reverent handling of the consecrated Host throughout the scientific examination."
Following this examination the scientist, aided by a "blind observer," discerned "the observed change in the Host could be satisfactorily and conclusively explained by natural causes, namely the growth of what is commonly known as 'red bread mold,' or red bacteria."
Mannion then went on to officially declare "the observed change in the Host was not miraculous."
The report also acknowledges the "need to establish proper protocols for clergy dealing with such situations in the future" in light of the public display and veneration that occured over several days.
The monsignor stressed that the Church "presumes that most situations appearing to be extraordinary phenomena are actually the result of natural causes," warning that false "claims of miracles ... cause harm to the faithful and damage the Church's credibility."
In concluding, Msgr. Mannion encouraged Catholics to "take this opportunity to renew their faith and devotion in the great miracle of the Real Presence which takes place at every Eucharist."