Sunday's homily on the scientific testing of consecrated host found to be heart tissue


Disclaimer: I apologize if this is not the right place for this question - I’m really not trying to offend anyone!

Last Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, my Priest’s homily culminated in his discussion of scientific testing of consecrated host that was found by 2 atheist researchers (perhaps among others) to be actual human heart tissue. He indicated that this result caused the 2 researchers to ‘faint dead away for 20 minutes before they could be revived.’

Not having heard this on the news, I was uncomfortable. This would be a big deal! My husband tried to find reputable information online (meaning from an official Church, news, or scientific source, not a blog), but only found one site mentioning a study that was debunked. I was not able to find anything aside from the miraculous Host of Lanciano, which is not new.

I mean no disrespect to the Priest, but I am troubled by this. I converted from Methodism about 4 years ago, so I am still learning a lot - I would feel completely uncomfortable asking the Priest about this. What does this mean? How do others interpret this?


I am interested to hear the replies…


Try this site. I found it useful.


Wishing there were a Catholic version of Snopes…I can’t imagine going up to receive Communion hearing that I was about to get “heart tissue.”


our current Holy Father, Pope Francis was key in the witnessing and testing and proving of a Eucharistic Miracle while in Argentina. It happened in 1996 in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and the Holy Father was the Auxiliary Bishop under Cardinal Quarracino then. Briefly here’s the story: In the evening of August 18, 1996 just after an evening Mass, a Host was found defiled and discarded in a candle and was placed in a container of water and put away in the Tabernacle. Eight days later it was discovered that the Host had turned into what appeared to be a bloody substance. The Auxiliary Bishop, Jorge Bergoglio, our Pope Francis, was notified and he gave instructions regarding the Host. The Host and Its miracle was kept secret for several years. In October of 1999, a Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody Host and sent it to New York for analysis. It’s origins was also kept secret. A Dr. Frederic Zugiba, a cardiologist and forensic pathologist analyzed the specimen and determined that it was real human flesh containing DNA and stated further that it was from the “heart muscle found at the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves.” He also noted that the muscle was in a state of inflammation and that white blood cells were present. To him and other forensic pathologists, this means that the heart was beating at the time the sample was taken because white cells die outside the living organism. I’ll quote the next part and keep in mind that this is a Host we are discussing, plain wheat flour and water that was mixed, baked and sent to a Church to undergo Transubstantiation at the hands of a Priest in an ordinary evening Mass. “What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.” (Dr. Zugiba) When asked by a man how long the white blood cells found would have lasted if they’d been attached to flesh that had been submerged in water, as had the Host been in the Tabernacle for eight days after it was found, the Dr. said they’d have disintegrated in minutes. But by the time the Doctor had obtained the sample, the length of time wasn’t only days, but years. Then the doctor was told the provenance of the sample. He was stunned. As for the Blood type, it was compared to the Miracle of Lanciano and both contain blood type AB and are both characteristic of a man of Middle Eastern origins.

Too much for some? Perhaps. But not this gal.



I go to the same parish as you. PM sent.

Eucharistic miracles have happened. They are usually associated with someone who is seriously doubting the Real Presence of Christ. Jesus says, “No, it’s really me. Watch and I’ll prove it!”



I gave the same homily. Here it is.

Around 700 AD, a Basilian monk was a celebrating Mass in the small church of St. Longinus. During Mass, when he said the Words of Consecration, the monk is said to have seen the bread change into living flesh and the wine change into blood which coagulated into five globules. The Lanciano sample is over 1200 years old but the elements can still be seen in the church there today. The flesh becomes rose-colored when lighted from the back. Odoardo Linoli, a professor in anatomy, pathological histology, chemistry and clinical microscopy, and Ruggero Berteili, another professor of the University of Siena, have examined the Lanciano sample and have verified that it is real human flesh and blood. It is from the muscular tissue of the heart. Their report was published in an Italian medical journal in 1973. Later in 1973, the World Health Organization appointed a scientific commission to verify the Italian doctor’s conclusions. Their work was carried out over 15 months with a total of 500 examinations. The conclusions of all the researches confirmed what had been stated and published in Italy. The extract of the scientific research of WHO’s medical commission was published in New York and Geneva in 1976, confirming science’s inability to explain the phenomenon. Yet this was only the beginning of what would be a phenomenal enigma.
In 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a woman discovered a discarded host on a candleholder after mass and brought it to Fr. Alejandro Pezet, who put it in a container of water to dissolve, and placed it inside the tabernacle of the chapel. A few days later, upon opening the tabernacle, the priest was astonished to find that the Host had become a bloody substance. He immediately notified his Bishop, who gave instructions that the bloodied flesh be photographed. After it had been kept in the tabernacle for a few years and having not undergone any decomposition, the Bishop decided to have it scientifically analyzed.
In 1999, in the presence of the then Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Dr. Ricardo Castanon, an atheist at the time, sent a fragment to New York for analysis, but did not inform the team of scientists of its origin so as not to prejudice the study. One scientist, Dr. Frederic Zugibe, a cardiologist and forensic pathologist, determined that the substance was real flesh and contained human DNA, and furthermore he concluded it was a piece of heart muscle.
Dr. Zugibe said that the sample came from a heart that was alive at the time the sample was taken. He further concluded that white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, indicating that the heart had been under severe stress. DNA tests on the sample showed it to be that of a male, AB positive blood type. What is extraordinary about this is that the blood type and DNA of the Buenos Aires sample and the Lanciano sample are an exact match, and testing confirms that both samples came from the same person.
During His life, Christ performed many miracles, not so much for the people upon whom the miracles were performed, but for us. Through these miracles, our belief in matters that are beyond our comprehension is fortified. We can only come to better understand these matters, which the church calls mysteries, through divine revelation.
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is one of these “mysteries”. We know and believe that Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity, is really present in the Eucharist, which though we continue to observe under the appearance of bread and wine, “substantially” changes into our Lord. We know this because Christ very clearly told us in the Gospel today. He said to “eat” His “flesh”. Note he didn’t use the word “body”, he said “flesh” and his statement is actually better translated as “gnash” or gnaw my flesh. He was aware that what he was saying was hard to accept, but he didn’t back down. In fact, we hear in the Gospel of John that when many disciples had trouble with this, and left, Jesus, who loved His disciples, didn’t chase after them and say: “hey wait, I didn’t really mean it” or “I was just talking symbolically”. No, rather he let them leave. Moreover he turned to the apostles and said, “What about you? Do you want to leave to?” “If you can’t accept this, leave.”




Our church uses the word “transubstantiation” to describe what happens at the consecration. The way the church uses that word “substance” is a bit tricky though. In the Eastern Rite churches, they use the word “essence” to describe what is changed. Look at it this way. Our bodies: All of the separate chemical compounds, minerals and water—which when piled together constitute the sum total of the actual physical matter of the human body—are not of themselves a human body. However much they may be physically compounded and mixed and rearranged in the laboratory, they would still only be a pile of organic chemicals, minerals and water. If this pile of material has never been alive, it is not a human body. But if it is part of the integral physical expression of a living human being who has absorbed and metabolized them, the “substance” of what they are is human; a human body. The substance (substantial reality) of what is seen is not solely that of a complex organization of organic chemical compounds, but is someone. To touch that matter now is not to touch a batch of chemical compounds, but to touch that person. The same is true of the bread and wine in the Eucharist. It may continue to appear as mere bread and wine, but its substance is changed into the essence of Jesus Christ himself.
On this solemnity of Corpus Christi, we are called to meditate upon the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. The documents of Vatican II say that The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The source because it is where we first truly receive Him who died for us, and the summit because by so receiving Him, His essence becomes part of us, so that we as the Church, become the mystical body of Christ on earth, through whom he works and through which we are saved.
Believe the very words of Christ Himself, or believe in the over 130 Eucharist miracles that the Church has confirmed. But KNOW that He is here and we receive Him, really, truly and substantially, in the holy sacrament of Eucharist. That Bishop of Buenos Aires who had the testing done, He believes. We now call him “Pope”.


I’m thinking this came as part of a Homily Aid or suggestion, because it is the same topic our priest used in the homily.

Interestingly, the take our priest took was that the host turning to heart tissue was nonsense…concluding that the mystery of the real presence is that while the host and wine become the body and blood of the Lord, their physical matter still remains bread and wine.


Well actually, you receive much more than heart tissue when you receive communion. You receive Jesus whole and entire: his whole body, his complete body, his blood, his entire person, his divinity and humanity, all of him. He is wholly present, yes, even including heart tissue.

But the trouble (as I see it) with Eucharistic miracles, is that they involve a change in the accidents. In transubstantiation, the accidents of bread and wine remain, although the bread and wine do not. We could not receive Jesus if the accidents changed to his own proper accidents. But they do not. He is received under the appearances of bread and wine, and no matter what we do with those accidents of bread and wine, we do not injure, break, or damage the body of Christ, which remains whole and entire under the appearances of the least particle of the host or the least drop from the chalice.



What we perceive as the ‘physical matter’ are the accidents of bread and wine. But the substance of the bread and wine are gone, replaced by Jesus, whole and entire.

The accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in Jesus. Jesus does not “become” a small round host. He has his own proper accidents as a human being, but we do not perceive them. After consecration, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in any object: not in the bread and wine–it is gone, replaced by Jesus body and blood; not in Jesus, because he has his own proper accidents.


Yes, thank you. Of course, that was my point, and undoubtedly the point of my priest’s homily.


I like the thoughts from your priest regarding this being nonsense…


I like your priest! I’m extremely skeptical of miracles of any kind - always have been, even as a Protestant. This type of “miracle” seems pointless to me. It embarrasses me when gullible Catholics make a big to-do over alleged miracles that are so easy to refute - if anyone took the time to do so. :frowning:

To be fair, there are probably as many Protestants who are just as gullible.


It’s also these types of unverified miracles that tend to make the Catholic Faith look superstitious in my opinion.


This happened also in Mexico a few years ago and the tissue was alive, beating and sent to New York for outside and objective testing and it was heart tissue.


When at was at Mass on Sunday, the priest talked about how in the 1300s there was a priest who was doubting the Real Presence. Once day during mass, when he genuflected during the concentration, God changed the bread and wine to real human flesh and blood.

The priest never doubted the Real Presence again.

Either during or after Mass, the priest then placed the flesh in a monstrance. The flesh and at least some of the blood was preserved for the next 600+ years. In the 1970s it was analised and was human flesh and human blood. The flesh was human heart tissue.

God may intervene at anytime to help strengthen our faith. We never know if He will do something subtle or magnificent.

God Bless.


Many people think the whole notion of the Real Presence is superstition. Doesn’t mean that it is. Many people think that exorcisms are superstition, doesn’t mean that it is.

If God feels that performing an Eucharistic miracle by changing the bread and wine into actual human flesh and blood will help the Faith, then he will do it. God is always sending us signals to help us. Sometimes they are subtle and sometimes they are grand.

God Bless.


I certainly don’t discount the possibility or the validity of Eucharistic miracles. There have been miracles that occurred throughout the ages. Only in places like Lourdes have specific procedures been established to verify them. That doesn’t mean that other miracles didn’t happen.

In the case of Eucharistic miracles, I get the impression that the point is to impress an unbelieving priest or other person that God really can change bread and wine to body and blood. They get their message across.

But they are not like transubstantiation. In transubstantiation, if we could actually see the change which takes place, we would not see just heart tissue or some human blood. We would see Jesus whole and entire, in his humanity and in his divinity. That is even more remarkable, and harder to believe than a Eucharistic miracle. But it is what happens, every time. We just don’t see his accidents, only the accidents of bread and wine.

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