Eucharistic Miracles and Pope Urban IV
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
In 1263, a German priest known as Peter of Prague was struggling with the doctrine of transubstantiation. While he was saying Mass in Bolseno, Italy, blood began to stream out of the host and onto the corporal at the moment of consecration. This was reported to and investigated by Pope Urban IV, who concluded that the miracle was real. The bloodstained linen is still exhibited at the cathedral in Orvieto, Italy. Many eucharistic miracles are like the one experienced by Peter of Prague, in which the host turns into flesh and blood.
Years earlier, Bl. Juliana of Cornillon of Belgium had a vision in which she saw a full moon that was darkened in one spot. A heavenly voice told her that the moon represented the Church at that time, and the dark spot showed that a great feast in honor of Corpus Christi was missing from the liturgical calendar. She reported this vision to the archdeacon of Liège, who later became Pope Urban IV. Keeping in mind Juliana’s vision as he verified the bloody miracle reported by Peter of Prague, Urban commissioned St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the Office for the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours for a new feast dedicated to devotion of the Eucharist.
At Mass on Easter Sunday, 1331, in the little village of Blanot, France, one of the last people to receive Communion at Mass one day was a woman named Jacquette. The priest placed the host on her tongue, turned, and started walking toward the altar. He did not notice that the host fell from her mouth and landed on a cloth covering her hands. When he was alerted to it, he went back to the woman, who was still kneeling at the railing. Instead of finding the host on the cloth, the priest saw only a spot of blood.
When Mass was over, the priest took the cloth into the sacristy and placed it in a basin of water. He washed the spot numerous times but found that it became darker and larger, eventually reaching the size and shape of a host. He took a knife and cut the part bearing the bloody imprint of the host from the cloth. He then put it in the tabernacle along with the consecrated hosts that remained after the Mass.
Those consecrated hosts were never distributed. Instead, they were kept in the tabernacle along with the cloth relic. After hundreds of years, they were still perfectly preserved. Unfortunately, they were lost during the French Revolution. The bloodstained cloth, though, was preserved by a parishioner named Dominique Cortet. It is solemnly exposed in St. Martin’s Church in Blanot every year on the feast of Corpus Christi.