What is a Miracle of the Eucharist?
Miracles of the Eucharist are miraculous divine interventions that are aimed at confirming faith in the real presence of the body and blood of the Lord in the Eucharist. We are familiar with the Catholic doctrine relating to this real presence; with the Words of Consecration, “this is my body” and “this is my blood,” the substance of the bread becomes the body of Christ and the substance of the wine becomes his blood. This awe-inspiring change is known as transubstantiation, in other words, the transition of the substance. Only the appearances, or species, of the bread and wine remain; these are known by the philosophical term “accidents”. The dimensions, colour, flavour and odour remain, as do the nutrients, but the substance, or rather the true reality, does not remain because it has become the body and blood of Christ. Transubstantiation can in no way be experienced by the senses; faith alone makes certain of this miraculous change.
Miracles of the Eucharist are intended to confirm this faith, which is based on the words of Christ, according to which what seems like bread is no longer bread, and what seems like wine is no longer wine. Flesh and blood, or one or the other, appear in Miracles of the Eucharist, depending on the case. The aim of miracles such as these is to demonstrate that we should not look at external appearances (bread and wine), but at the substance, at the true reality of things, which is Resh and blood. Medieval theologians scrutinised the issue of Miracles of the Eucharist (which were very common at that time), and interpreted them in a variety of different ways. The most wellfounded and reasoned of these seems to be that of the supreme “Doctor of the Eucharist” Saint Thomas Aquinas (cf. Summa Theologica III, q. 76, a. 8). He says that the body and blood that appear after the miracle are a result of the transformation of the Eucharistic species, or rather of the accidents, and that they do not affect the real substance of the body and blood of Christ. The species of the bread and wine are miraculously changed into species of Resh and blood, but the real body and real blood of Christ are not those that appear. They are those that, even before the miracle, were hidden beneath the species of the bread and wine, and continue to exist hidden beneath the species of the Resh and blood. If, in fact, the Resh and blood that appear were really the Resh and blood of Christ, we would have to say that the risen Christ, who reigns at God’s right hand, loses a part of his Resh and blood. We must therefore say that the Resh and blood that appear in the miracles are a type of species, appearance or accident, no more and no less than the species of the bread and wine. The Lord carries out these miracles to give a sign that is easy and visible to all, that the real body and blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist. But this real body and this real blood are not those that appear, rather they are substantially contained beneath the species or appearances, species or appearances that were those of the bread and wine before the miracle, and after the miracle are those of Resh and blood. Christ is truly and substantially contained beneath the appearances of Resh and blood, just as he was before the miracle. This is why we can worship Christ in his real presence beneath the species of the Resh and blood.
Father Roberto Coggi O.