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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena, Italy, 1263

Because it is so special to each of us and our families to continue to build our faith and our capabilities to defend and evangelize the faith, at times we will bring you some of the greatest Fathers of the Church and indicate some of their readings that you could find very beneficial in your walk to Holiness. Another powerful Eucharistic Miracle will follow this offering of love. To Jesus through Mary, GregoryMary

The Patristic Age

The Fathers of the Church were those saintly writers of the early centuries whom the Church recognizes as her special defenders of orthodoxy. And the Patristic Age is the period during which they lived.

It is generally held that the last of the Western Fathers (Latin) was St. Bede the Venerable (673-735), and the last of the Eastern Fathers (Greek) was St. John Damascene (675-749).

Writers like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Irenaeus are, of course, Fathers of the Church. But to distinguish some of the early Fathers who were outstanding witnesses to the faith in time of persecution. The authors we will include are writers who qualify by their antiquity, orthodoxy, sanctity, and approval by the Church as belonging to the Patristic Age.

The ones we will bring to you over time were picked mainly because their writings have been the most influential in shaping the minds and hearts of Christian believers. Every one of the ones we bring to you in the coming months has so deeply inspired future generations that he would qualify as father in spirit not only of Christian but of all human civilization.

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom had been Bishop of Constantinople for less than ten years when he died in exile in 407. But his place in history ranks among the giants of Catholic literature. He suffered intensely as bishop and was forced into exile because of his uncompromising defense of the Church's rights in conflict with the state.

He represents a new stage in the history of Christianity. The great writers who preceded him had to defend the true faith against heretical innovators, but Chrysostom had to protect the Church against political oppressors.

The epithet "Chrysostom" means "golden mouth" and identifies him as a powerful orator. He had a lively mind, a fertile imagination, a perfect sense of proportion, and an extraordinary depth of feeling. These features stand out even now, more than fifteen hundred years later, and are present in both his sermons and published writings.

His published oratorical works by actual count number over one thousand, some of which are extensive homilies on the New Testament. Among these are sermons on Genesis (67 homilies), on Matthew and John (178), and on St. Paul (250 homilies). The latter are considered the best commentaries on the Apostle of the Gentiles.

The nonoratorical writings are numerous and range across the spectrum of Christian faith and morals. The treatise On the Priesthood is the finest of his writings and perhaps the first really great pastoral work ever written, although he was only a deacon when he wrote this book. It stresses the dignity of the priesthood. The priest; it says; is greater than kings, angels, or parents. But priests are for that reason most tempted to pride and ambition. They, more than anyone else, need clear and unshakeable wisdom, patience that disarms pride, and exceptional prudence in dealing with souls.

Chrysostom's short Address on Vainglory and the Right Way for Parents to Bring Up Their Children is a treasury of practical wisdom that is still useful in our day. On Virginity praises marriage but points out that virginity is preferable, as taught by St. Paul in his letters to the Corinthians.

When he wrote in defense of the faith, his approach was unlike that of Athanasius. Chrysostom was above all a practical apologist. His classic Against Julian and the Pagans was a reasoned proof of the credibility of Christianity against the apostate Emperor Julian. He argued from the miracles of Christ and recent prodigies that occurred when the remains of Christian martyrs were being transferred to their permanent resting place.

A favorite theme of Chrysostom was the providential role of suffering. He wrote To Those Who Are Scandalized Because of Adversity and entitled one of his short books No One Is Injured Except by Himself. His argument is that suffering is an integral part of Divine Providence, that to be a true follower of Christ means to experience what Christ experienced - namely, opposition and the Cross.

It is a tribute to Chrysostom's genius that so much of what he said has been preserved over the centuries. One reason for this is that he used the Sacred Scriptures as the principal and almost only source of his ideas. In fact, he made them a law for every preacher. He preferred the literal method for explaining the Scriptures and concentrated on the moral teachings of the Bible.

It can safely be said that no other biblical commentator in history has ever brought together so much sound Catholic thought so calmly and sensibly, with such spiritual depth, and with such ease and skill as St. John Chrysostom.

SPECIALLY RECOMMENDED: On the Priesthood, Address on Vainglory and the Right Way for Parents to Bring Up Their Children

Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena, Italy, 1263

In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He was celebrating Mass in the Basilica of Bolsena, and when the moment of consecration arrived, the Host was transformed into Flesh. This miracle strengthened the wavering belief of the priest in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Sacred Body was inspected by Urban Pope IV and by St. Thomas Aquinas. This miracle helped convince the Pope to extend the feast of Corpus Christi to the universal Church so that everyone could recognize the love God has for those who love and worship Him.

The Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena, depicted by Raphael in a well-known fresco in the Vatican Palace, took place in 1263. A German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He was pious, but he found it difficult to accept that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host.

While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina (located in the church named for this martyr), he spoke the words of consecration and immediately Blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands and onto the altar. At first the priest tried to hide the Blood, but eventually he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV resided.

The Pope sent emissaries to investigate. When the facts were ascertained, he ordered the bishop of the diocese to bring the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of Blood to him. He had the relics placed in the cathedral.

The linen bearing the spots of Blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the Office for the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours to celebrate the Most Holy Body of the Lord (Corpus Christi). One year after the miracle, in August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced Aquinus’s composition, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi.

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