LEGNICA, Poland (ChurchMilitant.com) - Since the eighth century, the Vatican has recognized more than 130 Eucharistic miracles.
In most cases, observes Dr. Pawel Skibinski, director of the John Paul II Museum in Warsaw, the phenomenon occurs when a Sacred Host has been stolen, discarded, abandoned and forgotten or when doubts about the Real Presence are on the rise.
Southwest of the Polish capital, a recent incident in the industrial city of Legnica seems to support Skibinski's contention.
On Christmas Day 2013, during Mass at St. Hyacinth's Shrine, a priest accidentally dropped a consecrated Host on the floor.
In line with Church protocol, he retrieved the Host and placed it in a basin of holy water to dissolve.
On January 4, St. Hyacinth's priests checked the condition of the Host.
According to head priest Fr. Andrzej Ziombrze:
Immediately we noticed that the Host had not dissolved and that a red spot covering a fifth of its surface appeared. We decided to inform the bishop, who established a special theological scientific commission to analyze the event. We noticed that over time the stain on the Host changed color from deep red to red brown.
A fragment was then sent to departments of forensic medicine at two prominent research institutes: Wroclaw Medical University and the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin.
Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza questioned the phenomenon, arguing that the red-pigmented Serratia marcescens bacteria flourish on bread.
But when asked about this possibility, diocesan press secretary Fr. Waldemar Wesolowski testified that Legnica Bp. Zbigniew Kiernikowski specifically asked the scientists in Wroclaw and Szczecin to investigate if the red substance was bacterial or fungal and no such evidence was found.
According to the Szczecin analysis, "In the histopathological image, the fragments of tissue have been found containing the fragmented parts of the cross-striated muscle. ... The whole ... is most similar to the heart muscle with alterations that often appear during the agony. The genetic researches indicate the human origin of the tissue."
After the results were announced, Bp. Kiernikowski submitted the case to the Vatican for review and in April 2016 affirmed the miracle as authentic.
In a letter to his diocese, he stated:
In January this year, I presented the whole matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Today, according to the Holy See, I recommend that the parish priest, Andrzej Ziombrze, prepare a suitable place for the relic so that the faithful might give it honor. I also ask for visitors to be provided relevant information and to offer thorough catechesis to help properly form the faithful in their understanding of eucharistic worship. Moreover, I'm ordering that a book be provided to record any graces received or other supernatural events.
The prelate granted permission to venerate the relic, which is on display at St. Hyacinth's Shrine — a site Catholic observers find significant, as Saint Hyacinth (1185–1257), the "Apostle of the North," was a devoted practitioner and propagator of Eucharistic Adoration.
The Eucharistic miracle at Legnica again reminds Catholics of the Real Presence and, as renowned theologian Fr. John Hardon, S.J. wrote,"We are to believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ — simply, without qualification."
The holy Jesuit explained the Eucharist "is God become man in the fullness of His divine nature, in the fullness of His human nature, in the fullness of His body and soul, in the fullness of everything that makes Jesus Jesus."
Jesus, Fr. Hardon affirmed, "is in the Eucharist with His human mind and will united with the Divinity, with His hands and feet, His face and features, with His eyes and lips and ears and nostrils, with His affections and emotions and, with emphasis, with His living, pulsating, physical Sacred Heart."
"That is what our Catholic faith demands of us that we believe," he added. "If we believe this, we are Catholic. If we do not, we are not, no matter what people may think we are."