The feast of Epiphany, we celebrate in this Christmas season, is a time to realize that God is close to us and multiplies continuously his epiphanies, or revelations, to help us in our journey of faith. Here you have an amazing one! Manuel João.
Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires
Archbishop Bergolio and the Scientific Analysis
Pope Francis had as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires to conduct a scientific investigation into an alleged Eucharistic miracle, as the Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires became known and is said to have taken place between 1992 and 1996. He himself went several times a year to St. Mary’s Church, to keep in the visible signs of the miracle and to hold Eucharistic adoration there.
The event is little known, because the pastor and his flock, probably without consultation with the Archbishop, wanted no media furor. Since the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as successor to the Apostle Peter, the message is still spreading slowly. In the German-speaking Catholic internet forum, Viaveritas the first to report about it was in 2009.
The event began in 1992 in the same year and month, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio was called by Pope John Paul II from the Argentine Province and appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires. Everything has happened in the parish of Santa Maria y Caballito Almagro in the quarter in the Old City of Buenos Aires. On May 1st, 1992, a Friday, two consecrated hosts were found on the corporals of the Tabernacle. At the direction of the pastor, Father Alejandro Pezet, they were placed in a water container and sealed in the tabernacle, as is usual in such cases. After several days, the hosts had not dissolved. A week later, on Friday the 8th May 1992, were soaked with blood as the two hosts. On Sunday, the 10th May 1992, during the evening service, drops of blood were discovered on the paten on which the consecrated host is placed during the Eucharistic celebration. The blood was examined by a doctor and several hematologists. All found beyond reasonable doubt that it was human blood.
On the 15th August 1996, the Solemnity of the Assumption, when the Communion during the Mass was over, a woman approached Pastor Pezet and told him that she had found on the back of the church an apparently desecrated host. The priest hurried out to pick them up and put these in a glass of water to dissolve them. Instead of dissolving, however, the host turned into a bloody piece of meat. From this metamorphosis, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino (1990-1998), then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and his Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio were immediately informed. They instructed the priest to have a photographer photograph everything. The pictures were made on the 6th of September 1996 and sent to Rome.
As several years passed there were no signs of visible decay, the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires who is the present Pope conducted a thorough investigation. A tissue sample piece of meat into which the Host in the tabernacle had changed in 1996, was examined medically by a forensic examiner. It was noted that it is certainly the part of a human heart. As the pathological institute further noted that it had to be the heart of a living man. These are living cells. The coroner had not been instructed on the origin of the sample, so as not to affect the outcome in any direction.
In the same year the well-known, among other things, German trained, Neuropsychopharmacology Physiologist Castañon Ricardo Gomez from Bolivia, was commissioned to carry out some further investigations. This time on two alleged Eucharistic miracles, that of 1992 and that of 1996. On the 6th of October 1999, Castañon took a blood sample in the presence of representatives of the Archbishop and of a notary, and sent it to the Analytical Forensic Institute Forence of San Francisco in the United States. The withdrawal was cleared by the Archbishop with Rome. Direct contacts were the Canon Lawyer and Current Curial Bishop, Gianfranco Girotti, the private secretary to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine and the Faith. On the 28th of January 2000, the result was announced. The Institute noted that it was human blood, confirming the previous studies. The DNA code is uniquely human. The samples were also sent to Professor John Walker of the University of Sydney in Australia. Independently of any other studies it was found that the muscle cells and white blood cells originate from a human and are perfectly intact. The studies also showed that the tissue was inflamed, which means that the person to whom it belongs, had suffered a trauma. In 2003, Walker told Castañon that the samples comply with an infected male, according to the signs also still alive according to the state of the heart.
To make matters deeper, then the samples were sent to the specialists for heart disease, Frederic Zugibe of the Columbia University of New York, one of the most renowned practitioners in the U.S. Court. On the 26th of March, 2005, he presented the results of his investigations. He presented the analyzed material as a definitive fragment of the heart muscle, which originates from the left ventricle near the aortic valve. The left ventricle pumps the blood to all body parts. The investigated heart muscle, says Zugibe, is located in an inflamed condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. The example then that the heart was living when the sample was taken from him, because white blood cells die off outside a living organism. More, the white blood cells have penetrated into the tissue, which indicates that the heart has suffered a great stress situation. Also, Zugibe and his scientific team were not informed about the background and origin of the samples from consecrated Hosts.
Witnesses of the studies were the attorney Ron Tesoriero and Mike Willesee, one of Australia’s best known journalists, then converted to the Catholic faith. As Zugibe later learned that one sample a month the others were stored in distilled water even for three years, he was completely taken aback. He was even more surprised when he learned of the origin of the samples from wafers. The “living” part of it is a male heart fragment came from a piece of consecrated bread. Zugibe was stunned: How could the fragment of a piece of bread be a part of a human heart? How was it possible that these samples he examined, which must have been taken from 1996, for those who do not believe in miracles, could be from a dead man, still remain “alive” years after removal, meaning that the tissue cells were active and moving? Within 15 minutes, the white blood cells break down in a dead organism. How was it possible it was still observable in 2005? Zugibe’s response, “How and why can the consecrated Host can mutate and become the flesh and blood of a living human being, remains an inexplicable mystery for science, a mystery that lies outside its competence.”
Comparison with Lanciano and the Shroud of Turin
The results of the analysis of the New York Institute were finally compared with those of another Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano that, the earliest known of its kind in Lanciano, both the remains of a bloody Host and preserved human heart, which was transformed from a consecrated Host. The Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano is already 1300 years old, and yet are still remains a Host and part of the heart muscle can be seen and is exhibited in the local Franciscan Church. The miracle occurred in the first half of the 8th Century, when the area of Lanciano in southern Italy was Lombard. From Byzantium many monks fled West due to the iconoclast controversy under Emperor Leo III. (717-741). One of them, a Greek Basilian, doubted while he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence of Christ. He doubted that the bread and wine would actually convert into flesh and remain the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. During the consecration, the bread turned in his hands and under his eyes actually into flesh and blood. Recent scientific studies have also confirmed it has been a revered relic for almost 1,300 years as human blood and human heart tissue. There were no preservatives found that could explain such a long preservation.
None of the scientists were informed about the origin of the two samples from Italy and Argentina when comparing the studies of Lanciano and Buenos Aires. The comparison showed that the studied samples come from the same person in both cases. The blood type is AB + for each, which occurs in about five percent of all people worldwide. The DNA is the same in the both cases. In addition, there are features that the man came from the Middle East. Further comparisons showed the same agreement with the grave cloth of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.
The Vatican has yet to recognize the Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires. The Church can thus usually take enough time and not be rushed. Nevertheless, Argentina seems to be ripe with a long series of Eucharistic miracles that run through the course of time in Church history in a very special way, against the doubts of priests, recalling for religious and laity that transubstantiation is quite real and vivid in the memory.
Text: UCCR / Giuseppe Nardi
See the testimony of Doctor Castañón: