The Eucharistic miracle in Krakow

Nestled in the medieval Italian hill town of Siena lies the towering Basilica di San Francesco. Though it lacks the ornate black and white marble that decorates the Sienese cathedral, or the impressive and ancient frescoes that grace the neighborhood parishes, San Francesco does boast an extraordinary article of devotion – a Eucharistic miracle.

The story of the miracle begins on August 14, 1730, when a ciborium full of consecrated hosts was stolen from the church’s tabernacle. Happily, three days later, they were found stashed in the offering box, as the thief merely desired the costly golden ciborium.

The hosts were carefully cleaned of the dust and debris from the offering box. But the priests who found them, instead of consuming the hosts as practice dictates, placed them back into the tabernacle. This deviation from practice set the stage for the miracle: The faithful noticed that the hosts failed to deteriorate. For 300 years, the preservation has continued, with scientific tests showing that they are still as fresh as if they had been consecrated during today’s Mass.

More to read…The Miraculous Hosts of Siena: The Body of Christ, Ever New 

What is most curious, however, is not the nature of the miraculous preservation of the hosts, but rather the lack of widespread devotion to this supernatural event. During the summer months of 2016, among various daily and Sunday Masses which I attended at San Francesco, the central nave of the basilica was never used; rather, each Mass was said in a small, corner chapel, before the congregation of eight or nine people venerated the miraculous hosts.

In the face of such a lack of response to a supernatural proof of the Most Blessed Sacrament, one may ask: “If the faithful don’t respond to this display of God’s power, how are we to instill in the world a belief in the Eucharist?”

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The answer arrives through the Eucharistic miracle that was World Youth Day in Krakow. On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, more than 18,000 people fell on their knees before the Eucharist. This crowd numbered only those who were able to enter the packed Tauron Arena; there was an additional crowd, which sources estimate numbered between two and five thousand, who had to be turned away at the door. This display of devotion, however, was merely a foretaste of the true miracle which was to come three days later, when nearly 2 million pilgrims from 187 nations joined Pope Francis in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

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World Youth Day was miraculous because these two million young people are often written off as overly secular or unfaithful. Yet, that night there was no change in the appearance of the host; in truth, relatively few people could even see the host they were adoring. There was no thunder or lightning, no voice from the heavens reminding us “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” There wasn’t even the exhilarating praise music of Matt Maher and Audrey Assad, which had accompanied Christ in the Tauron Arena. There was only the appearance of bread … and great faith.

More to read: Aleteia photographer shares his experiences at this Adoration event

The miracle is more momentous if we think of the history that brought those 2 million young people to Poland to demonstrate their faith in Jesus Christ hidden in bread. Pope Francis had to invite them to pray that night; an adult facilitator had to invite them to Krakow to be present for the pope’s invitation; Pope Saint John Paul II had to establish World Youth Day; Jan Tyranoski had to invite young Karol Wojtyla to be a parish youth leader where the seed of the idea of WYD was planted. The timeline can be followed further and further, through interaction and invitation, back to the encounter of Christ asking Simon and Andrew to follow Him and become fishers of men.

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For those who witnessed it, the miracle of July 30, 2016, cannot and will not be forgotten, for no man or woman can forget the sheer insanity of 2 million people bowing before what eyes perceive as bread, at the request of an elderly man lovingly called “Holy.”

Thus the question “How are we to instill in the world a faith in the Most Holy Sacrament?” is answered: encounter people; invite them, encourage them, challenge them, bring them to prayer. It will create in the world a new heart, for the light of encounter necessarily illuminates a display of faith to the world, whereas a light of supernatural intervention can be hidden under the basket of a small, unvisited chapel in a large, unused church.

More to read: Bishop Robert Barron shares his feelings about this event in Krakow

Isn’t praying to the saints idol worship?

Dear Katrina, As I observe, some people are frequently visiting shrines of different saints and praying novenas. Some strongly believe saints can intercede for them and secure their wish / prayer request granted, or attribute a miracle performed by God to the intercession of that saint. I respect saints because they followed Christ’s teaching with their heart, mind and soul.

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  • They were doers of the Word of God, and they set an example for us to follow, to be genuine and attractive Christians. However, as a general observation, this practice gives me doubt — do people tend to give more importance to saints than Almighty God? Are we not deviating from the core of our belief and faith? Too much of idolatry in the name of saints? I appreciate your expert guidance. Thanks and regards, Chack ————————————- Dear Chack, Even saints asked other saints for intercession in their own prayers. Kobe 11 Scarpe Elite If we’re using the lives of saints as an example of well-lived Catholicism, why would you choose to ignore that very important aspect of their prayer life? Emulate the saints … even their prayer life. Every single canonized saint has sought the intercession of Our Blessed Virgin Mother. Nike Trainers UK Were they loving Christ less by seeking her prayers and petitions? Of course not. What about our own patron saints that we take at confirmation, or our guardian angels? Should we ignore them in our prayers? No. You ask if seeking saintly intercession goes against the core beliefs of being Catholic. Well I assert that NOT doing so goes more against our beliefs. It’s not just “some people” who visits shrines, make pilgrimages, and pray novenas… it’s popes, religious brothers and sisters, bishops, all the saints before us, and just about every single Catholic that practices his or her faith and all the Catholics before them. Saints wrote those novenas and built those shrines you question. St. Faustina was divinely inspired by Christ Himself to give us the Divine Mercy devotions and novenas. There is nothing idolatrous or dishonoring to God about having a devotion to his Divine Mercy. Do you ask your friends to pray for you? If so, why? If you ask your friends to pray for you, are you dishonoring God by loving your friends more? After all, you could have just prayed directly to God yourself, right? But Catholics asks the saints for intercessory prayers in the same way you asks your friends to pray for you, except our friends (the saints in heaven) are closer to God’s ear. What if you were seeking a promotion at work? Would you ask a random co-worker to put in a good word for you or would you ask the boss’ executive assistant to put in a good word for you? Who is going to have more influence in that situation? The boss’ executive assistant, of course. In no way are you dishonoring your boss or showing favor to the executive assistant by simply seeking the assistant’s help. Under Armour UA Curry 1 And lastly, our human hearts have no limit on love. We are perfectly capable of loving more than one person at a time, would you not agree? Do parents love a child less because they’ve used up all their love on the other kids? Having an affection or love for a saint doesn’t diminish our love for Christ. On the contrary, it magnifies it. The saints draw us nearer to God. That’s their job. Richard Sherman Seattle Seahawks Jersey We imitate their lives to draw nearer to God. Canotta Washington Wizards We ask for their prayers to draw nearer to God. We honor their status in heaven to draw nearer to God. We don’t place them above God, we honor them because of God. We aren’t replacing God with the saints, we are using the saints to get as humanly close as possible to God. Air Jordan 4 Retro A really great book that helped with my understanding of idols, because I had questions very similar to your own when I was a new Catholic, was Elizabeth Scalia’s book Strange Gods. In it, she explains the very real idols in our lives that we use to replace God. Canotta Minnesota Timberwolves I think it would help you better differentiate between true idolatry and the way the saints work in our lives. nike air max 2017 dames Roze I can’t recommend it enough. I know I have a pretty plain way of explaining things because I’m no theology professor, so if you still struggle with this issue I suggest you pray about it and talk this over with a priest. Good luck to you.