Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Italy Day 18 {Lanciano}

Then many of his disciples who were listening said,
"This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them,
"Does this shock you?" 
 -John 6:60-61

The 8th century Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, depicted in stained glass

Our view from the Adoration Chapel inside St. Francis Church (San Francesco, 1258), built over a pre-existing 7th century church.

To adore Jesus' Real Presence in Flesh and Blood, we drove from Vieste to Lanciano, home of a Eucharistic Miracle from the 8th century. Doubts about Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist began at the very moment He said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." (John 6: 53-56)
An 8th century priest holding the Blessed Sacrament at the consecration, doubted whether or not it was really Jesus' flesh and blood. He suddenly found himself holding flesh and blood (later scientific studies have confirmed the type of tissue as heart muscle; the blood types of the flesh and blood is a match). 
We were somewhat shocked at the sheer number of visitors waiting to enter St. Francis Church in Lanciano, re-opening at 3PM after reposa.  Being a Sunday, the crowds at this pilgrimage site even in the "low" season were vast.  Not expecting to have a very intimate experience among such a throng of pilgrims, we entered the Church, and to our amazement found most were seated in the congregation, as if for Mass, listening to an Italian lecture (probably a teaching about the Eucharistic Miracle).   We entered a chapel in the back of the Church, and in private silence adored the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord; True Flesh and True Blood, incorrupt since the 700's!  Like a miracle at the miracle, we were blessed with a private viewing and found the silence for prayer and adoration awesome, especially considering what we had expected would be a crowded and less-than-intimate experience.

We believe that at every Holy Communion, at every Mass, we encounter the True Presence of Christ, given to us as the Bread of Angels; supernatural nutrition for our journey on Earth. Adoring the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano helped us to grow closer to Christ and deepen our faith as a family, and we will forever remember this divine encounter on our pilgrimage.


Olives for sale at the street fair in Lanciano, which we visited during reposa.

An interesting billboard in Lanciano

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