The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Macerata, Italy, 1356
The following, before the Eucharistic Miracle, is a continuation of a desire to give you information that can help you in your walk to eternity. This great Doctor of the Catholic Church, was gifted at clarifying some of the questions by those who desired reasoning to explain their faith, and to have a reasoned answer to those questions that come from infidels as a block to them receiving the Christian faith. On this great Father of the Church I will bring this to you in sections for your joy and use as a defender of the faith. To Jesus through Mary, GregoryMary
CUR DEUS HOMO St. Anselm PREFACE
THE first part of this book was copied without my knowledge, before the work had been completed and revised. I have therefore been obliged to finish it as best I could, more hurriedly, and so more briefly, than I wished. For had an undisturbed and adequate period been allowed me for publishing it, I should have introduced and subjoined many things about which I have been silent. For it was while suffering under great anguish of heart, the origin and reason of which are known to God, that, at the entreaty of others, I began the book in England, and finished it when an exile in Capra. From the theme on which it was published I have called it Cur Deus Homo, and have divided it into two short books. The first contains the objections of infidels, who despise the Christian faith because they deem it contrary to reason; and also the reply of believers; and, in fine, leaving Christ out of view (as if nothing had ever been known of him), it proves, by absolute reasons, the impossibility that any man should be saved without him. Again, in the second book, likewise, as if nothing were known of Christ, it is moreover shown by plain reasoning and fact that human nature was ordained for this purpose, viz., that every man should enjoy a happy immortality, both in body and in soul; and that it was necessary that this design for which man was made should be fulfilled; but that it could not be fulfilled unless God became man, and unless all things were to take place which we hold with regard to Christ. I request all who may wish to copy this book to prefix this brief preface, with the heads of the whole work, at its commencement; so that, into whosesoever hands it may fall, as he looks on the face of it, there may be nothing in the whole body of the work which shall escape his notice.
The question on which the whole work rests.
I HAVE been often and most earnestly requested by many, both personally and by letter, that I would hand down in writing the proofs of a certain doctrine of our faith, which I am accustomed to give to inquirers; for they say that these proofs gratify them, and are considered sufficient. This they ask, not for the sake of attaining to faith by means of reason, but that they may be gladdened by understanding and meditating on those things which they believe; and that, as far as possible, they may be always ready to convince any one who demands of them a reason of that hope which is in us. And this question, both infidels are accustomed to bring up against us, ridiculing Christian simplicity as absurd; and many believers ponder it in their hearts; for what cause or necessity, in sooth, God became man, and by his own death, as we believe and affirm, restored life to the world; when he might have done this, by means of some other being, angelic or human, or merely by his will. Not only the learned, but also many unlearned persons interest themselves in this inquiry and seek for its solution. Therefore, since many desire to consider this subject, and, though it seem very difficult in the investigation, it is yet plain to all in the solution, and attractive for the value and beauty of the reasoning; although what ought to be sufficient has been said by the holy fathers and their successors, yet I will take pains to disclose to inquirers what God has seen fit to lay open to me. And since investigations, which are carried on by question and answer, are thus made more plain to many, and especially to less quick minds, and on that account are more gratifying, I will take to argue with me one of those persons who agitate this subject; one, who among the rest impels me more earnestly to it, so that in this way Boso may question and Anselm reply.
How those things which are to be said should be received.
Boso: As the right order requires us to believe the deep things of Christian faith before we undertake to discuss them by reason; so to my mind it appears a neglect if, after we are established in the faith, we do not seek to understand what we believe. Therefore, since I thus consider myself to hold the faith of our redemption, by the prevenient grace of God, so that, even were I unable in any way to understand what I believe, still nothing could shake my constancy; I desire that you I should discover to me, what, as you know, many besides myself ask, for what necessity and cause God, who is omnipotent, should have assumed the littleness and weakness of human nature for the sake of its renewal?
Anselm: You ask of me a thing which is above me, and therefore I tremble to take in hand subjects too lofty for me, lest, when some one may have thought or even seen that I do not satisfy him, he will rather believe that I am in error with regard to the substance of the truth, than that my intellect is not able to grasp it.
Boso: You ought not so much to fear this, because you should call to mind, on the other hand, that it often happens in the discussion of some question that God opens what before lay concealed; and that you should hope for the grace of God, because if you liberally impart those things which you have freely received, you will be worthy to receive higher things to which you have not yet attained.
Anselm: There is also another thing on account of which I think this subject can hardly, or not at all, be discussed between us comprehensively; since, for this purpose, there is required a knowledge of Power and Necessity and Will and certain other subjects which are so related to one another that none of them can be fully examined without the rest; and so the discussion of these topics requires a separate labor, which, though not very easy, in my opinion, is by no means useless; for ignorance of these subjects makes certain things difficult, which by acquaintance with them become easy.
Boso: You can speak so briefly with regard to these things, each in its place, that we may both have all that is requisite for the present object, and what remains to be said we can put off to another time.
Anselm: This also much disinclines me from your request, not only that the subject is important, but as it is of a form fair above the sons of men, so is it of a wisdom fair above the intellect of men. On this account, I fear, lest, as I am wont to be incensed against sorry artists, when I see our Lord himself painted in an unseemly figure; so also it may fall out with me if I should undertake to exhibit so rich a theme in rough and vulgar diction.
Boso: Even this ought not to deter you, because, as you allow any one to talk better if he can, so you preclude none from writing more elegantly if your language does not please him. But, to cut you off from all excuses, you are not to fulfill this request of mine for the learned but for me, and those asking the same thing with me.
Anselm: Since I observe your earnestness and that of those who desire this thing with you, out of love and pious zeal, I will try to the best of my ability with the assistance of God and your prayers, which, when making this request, you have often promised me, not so much to make plain what you inquire about, as to inquire with you. But I wish all that I say to be received with this understanding, that, if I shall have said anything which higher authority does not corroborate, though I appear to demonstrate it by argument, yet it is not to be received with any further confidence, than as so appearing to me for the time, until God in some way make a clearer revelation to me. But if I am in any measure able to set your inquiry at rest, it should be concluded that a wiser than I will be able to do this more fully; nay, we must understand that for all that a man can say or know still deeper grounds of so great a truth lie concealed.
Boso: Suffer me, therefore, to make use of the words of infidels; for it is proper for us when we seek to investigate the reasonableness of our faith to propose the objections of those who are wholly unwilling to submit to the same faith, without the support of reason. For although they appeal to reason because they do not believe, but we, on the other hand, because we do believe; nevertheless, the thing sought is one and the same. And if you bring up anything in reply which sacred authority seems to oppose, let it be mine to urge this inconsistency until you disprove it.
Anselm: Speak on according to your pleasure.
Next week we will continue with this: Objections of infidels and replies of believers.
Eucharistic Miracle of Macerata, Italy, 1356
On April 25 1356, at Macerata, a priest whose name is not known was celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Church of St. Catherine, owned by the Benedictine monks. During the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread before Holy Communion, the priest began to doubt the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host.
Precisely at the moment in which he broke the Host, to his great surprise, he saw flow from the Host an abundance of Blood which stained part of the corporal, and the chalice placed on the altar.
At Macerata in the church of the Cathedral of Holy Mary Assumed and St. Giuliano, under the altar of the Most Holy Sacrament, it is possible to venerate the relic of the “corporal marked by Blood.” Also preserved in this church is the parchment on which the miracle is described.
Furthermore, the historian Ferdinando Ughelli cited this miracle in his work Sacred Italy of 1647 and describes how since the fourteenth century “the corporal has been carried in solemn procession through the city, enclosed in an urn of crystal and silver, with the concourse of all Piceno.”
All of the documents likewise agree in the description of how the miraculous facts occurred. An anonymous priest, during the Mass, was struck with strong doubts about the reality of the transubstantiation, and when he broke the Great Host, he saw blood drop from the Host and fall onto the corporal and chalice.
The priest immediately informed Bishop Nicholas of San Martino, who ordered that the relic of the Blood-stained cloth be carried into the cathedral and he instituted a regular canonical process. In 1493 one of the first confraternities in honor of the Most Blessed Sacrament was instituted at Macerata (1494) and it was here that the pious practice of Forty Hours was established in 1556. Every year on the occasion of Corpus Christi, the corporal of the miracle is carried in procession behind the Most Blessed Sacrament.