They were aware of the Real Presence

St Anthony of Padua The Miracle of the Mule by Joseph the Younger Heintz

Eucharistic wonders are recorded in the lives of St. Rose of Lima, Bl. Angela of Foligno, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis Borgia, St. Joseph of Cupertino, and many other saints, who sensibly perceived the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle and in the consecrated Hosts, seeing Jesus with their own eyes or enjoying His indescribable fragrance.

Well known is the episode in the life of St. Anthony of Padua when he once proved the Real Presence to an unbeliever by showing him a hungry mule kneeling before a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, in preference to devouring the basket of oats placed beside the monstrance.

Let us recall what happened to St. Catherine of Siena.  One day, a priest who did not believe in the special gifts of the Saint responded to a request to bring Holy Communion to St. Catherine when she was sick, but with a host that was not consecrated.  At the entrance of the priest, the Saint did not make a move, as she was accustomed to do, in order to adore the Eucharistic Jesus, but instead, fixed her eyes on the priest and reproved him openly for the deception and for the sin of idolatry in which he wanted her to fall.

The same thing happened to Bl. Anna Maria Taigi who, when receiving Holy Communion, was intentionally given an unconsecrated host.  The holy woman instantly realized the deception and experienced a never-ending sadness, which she confided to her confessor.

Equally remarkable was an episode in the life of St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori when he received Holy Communion in his sickbed.  One morning, as soon as he had received the host, he sighed aloud with tears, “What have you done? You have brought me a host without Jesus—an unconsecrated host!”  An investigation was undertaken and it was learned that the priest who had celebrated Mass that morning had been so distracted that he had left out everything from the Memento for the Living to the Memento for the Dead in the Roman Canon, and so had completely omitted the consecration of the bread and wine.  The Saint had detected the absence of Our Lord from the unconsecrated host!

Many other episodes taken from the lives of the saints could be mentioned.  For instance, cases of exorcism could be recounted where obsessed persons were delivered from the demon by means of the Eucharist.  So, too, one might list those great manifestations of faith and love that are the eucharistic congresses and the celebrated eucharistic shrines (such as those at Turin, Lanciano, Siena, Orvieto, and the shrine of St. Peter of Patierno), shrines which to the very present have preserved the testimonials to astonishing events of the past in confirmation of the Real Presence.

The Sanctuary of Lanciano (in Abruzzi, Italy), in particular, is unique of its kind among the world’s eucharistic sanctuaries and deserves to be better known throughout the entire world.  There the marvelous presence of a Host transformed into live Flesh and preserved in this condition for many centuries can be contemplated.  It is a visible miracle which amazes and moves hearts.

From the Jesus Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI

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