Trani - 1000 A.D.
A story of Love and hate
The Power of Jesus in the Eucharist where Hate was converted to Love
This article is an Excerpt from Miracles of the Eucharist Book II
This article is about Love and hate. What would make a Man give up His Life for those who mock Him, reject Him, betray Him, choose a murderer over Him, strip Him, scourge Him, spit upon Him, nail Him to the Cross? Love, unconditional Love!
What would make a woman take a consecrated Host, the vulnerable God-man and desecrate Him? Hate! But how does someone acquire that much hate and anger against an innocent, vulnerable Lord Who died for her?
Maybe, we can explain it in this way. Let us tell you a little about Auschwitz, where two Catholics gave up their lives for others, out of love, the same kind of Love, their Savior had for even those who would crucify Him. One of the Catholics was Saint Maxmilian Mary Kolbe, a Catholic priest who took the place of another prisoner in the death camp of Auschwitz.1 The other was a Carmelite Nun, a convert from Judaism, who willingly died for the Jewish people. She told her sister, as they were being taken to the death camps, “Come let us go for our people.” “One day, this will have to be atoned for.”
“Blessed Edith Stein died as a Jewess and Catholic Nun, for the Jews who were being persecuted because of their belief in the One God, and as a German for the Germans who were persecuting the Jewish people, saying if she did not pray and do retribution for the German who will?”2 She willingly walked to the Cross, not only for Jewish brothers and sisters, but for the Nazi soldiers who were killing them and would kill her and most of her family. So, like Jesus, she died not only for the innocents, but for their persecutors.
The war is over, and now Auschwitz is a stark memorial of man’s inhumanity to man, when he stooped below the animals and killed innocent people whose only sin was they believed differently from him. But is the war over? One dark and ugly day, prejudice raised its venomous head again, and brought back all the nightmares that can never be forgotten. An act of hate filled the air, and the shrine to those victims of Auschwitz was soiled. Some Jewish-Americans climbed over the fence of a Carmelite convent outside Auschwitz, and ordered the Nuns off the land, they had purchased from the Polish government. [The convent and chapel had been a run down building where the Nazi guards used to store Cyclon B gas, which was used to exterminate innocent men, women and children, Jews and Catholics, alike; no one was spared from this insane hatred.] And now, these Americans part of a people who had been prejudiced against, were turning their hate against innocent Nuns, whose only crime was the Cross above the convent. They said it offended them, reminding them of those who had killed their fellow Jews. It was futile to say that these Nazis were atheists; and as followers of Christ, they could not have done this infamous act against His creation, His chosen people. And so, these Nuns who turned a house of death into a house of Love, had to leave. Does Hate ever die?
Why did the Jewish woman, involved in our Miracle, do what she did? How much anger and hate did it take to go through with this horrible act? Had something happened to her? We don’t know. What we do know is that when we allow anger and hate to enter our hearts, then the enemy of God can do all forms of evil through us, as his instruments. But, let us go to our story.
The Miracle where Hate was converted to Love
Our miracle takes place in Trani, a small coastal town located near the boot of Italy in between Foggia and Bari, not far from San Giovanni Rotondo (Padre Pio) and Monte St. Angelo (the Cave of St. Michael). In 1985, Trani only boasted a population of 45,000 inhabitants. Can you imagine the size of the community at the beginning of the second millenium?
But it doesn’t matter to Satan how big or small a town is. If there is one soul who can be brought down to the flames of hell, he’ll go after him, or send his demons after him. If he has his way, that soul will burn with him for all eternity. So when he saw a prideful Jewish lady, a self-proclaimed sorceress who hated the Church, who was so angry at Jesus, looking for a way to discredit Him, Satan saw a way to sucker one more soul down into the fiery pits of hell.
In around the year 1000, there was quite a sizable number of Jewish people living in Trani. The church of Saint Anna which had originally been a synagogue, was now a church where Jews, who had converted to Christianity, worshiped. But for the purpose of this Miracle, let us go to the Church of Saint Andrew, where there is a plaque which tells of the sacrilege and the Miracle of the Eucharist that came about because of this act of desecration, till today.
There was a Jewish woman who had an overpowering hatred for the Church. We can’t be sure what brought about this hostility and loathing; we only know that she felt driven to deal a death blow to Jesus and His Church. But her priority, even more than fulfilling her wrath against Jesus and the Church, was to make herself famous. She wanted to demonstrate her powers of magic. Too many people were turning to prayer and Jesus, instead of to her. She needed to do something which would bring her a great deal of publicity, and at the same time prove to Catholics, their belief in Jesus was unfounded and ridiculous.
It was Holy Thursday. There had been so much reverence among the villagers, during the period of Quaresima.3 The witch was furious! She specially hated this night, when the Christians celebrated the Last Supper, the first Mass. They insisted that Jesus gave them the Eucharist, His Body and Blood, this night; and to add salt to her wounds, it had been at a Seder, the first night of Passover! She had always heard the age-old question, at the Seder table, “Why is this night different from other nights?” Well, she would show these Christians how she had the power to change this night into one no different from any other night. This night would be the perfect night to humiliate this God Who had such power over them. She would show them what a sham it all was, their belief that Jesus came to them under the appearance of bread and wine.
They had been focused on the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus all through Lent, and had ignored her, turning to their God for help. They thought, they had something to mourn about, on Good Friday? They did not know what sorrow was. Well, she’d show them! She would show them that everything the Church, had taught them was a lie!4 She would shoot them down before they had a chance to rejoice, on Easter Sunday. The day of hope, they celebrated with such joy, she would turn into a day of despair.
The One Who they believed was in their church, was just a piece of bread, and she would prove it to them. The people had dared be filled by the grandeur of God and not the need of her? She had to do something to disprove His existence. It became an obsession with her. She realized the most vulnerable way that Catholics could be attacked, is through their belief that Jesus is truly Present and comes to them, in the Eucharist. That had always been their strength. She would find a way to disprove that He was really in that piece of bread. She would get a Host from the church, and desecrate it. She was apprehensive about going into the church. She was known to be a Jewess. In addition, she had a reputation of being a witch or sorceress or magician, as you wish. Add to that, she had not bothered to hide her hatred for the Church, needless to say, she would not be very welcome at Mass, that evening. For her to go into the church, unnoticed, would require a major miracle. For her to walk up to the Altar and try to get the priest to give her Communion would be next to impossible. Besides, even though she insisted she did not believe, Jesus was Present in the church, she was afraid the walls would fall down upon her, if she dared to enter, especially with her evil intent.
So, she adopted another plan, which would actually be better than her going up to the Altar, and receiving the Eucharist. Get a Catholic to do her dirty work. In this way, if God was in the church, she would not be zapped, but the poor fool doing her bidding. This way, if what they believed was true, then according to the Catholic Faith, the Catholic would be sharing in the same sacrilege, as the sorceress; so she was helping a believer to sin against her God! She called a woman, a lapsed Catholic, who had come to her many times for potions and answers to questions about the future. She had chosen someone who either had no idea what went on during the Sacrifice of the Mass, or worse yet, knew and didn’t care. There are a lot of them out there, you know. The magician was able to find someone who would sell out Jesus for a few pieces of silver. After all, hadn’t that happened before? Didn’t Judas sell out Jesus for a few pieces of silver?
The lapsed Catholic went to Mass, at the Church of St. Basil, which has since been renamed the Church of St. Andrew. At the time of Communion, she received like everyone else, on her tongue. Only she did not consume the Host; she quickly went into the shadows of the church and removed the Eucharist, placing It in between the folds of a napkin. Then, at the end of the Mass, she left the church and went hurriedly to the sorceress. What were the thoughts running through her mind? Was she nervous? Or was she proud of herself for having gotten away with this blasphemous act? Did she feel important? Would she be famous, along with the witch? This may have been the only thing, she had done of any real importance, and she had done it well. Would she be rewarded?
Our hearts are filled with sadness, as we ask ourselves: Didn’t the Catholic care enough about her Lord Jesus, who had suffered and died for her, to protect Him? Or didn’t she know that the Eucharist is really Jesus? What could she have been thinking? What did she think, the witch would do with the Host? Did the Catholic know enough, about the Faith, to understand she was about to commit the worst sacrilege? We’re always looking out, beyond the borders of our Church, to convert those who don’t worship Jesus in the fullest sense, with the gifts of the Sacraments, or those who don’t worship Jesus at all. We need to turn to those, possibly who are no farther than in the pews of our own church, or within the folds of our families. Do we project the Jesus Whom we receive in Holy Communion? Has the conversion come about in our own hearts? Maybe, just maybe, we all share in the guilt when one of our Church goes astray. We don’t know why, but an ignorant or fallen-away Catholic played into the hands of Satan, through his emissary, the sorceress, and was on her way to hell.
The sorceress paced up and down; she couldn’t wait for the woman to come to her cottage, with the consecrated Host. When she arrived, the sorceress paid her the agreed-upon sum, and sent her away. The magician held the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, vulnerable in this Eucharistic Form, in her hands. She could do whatever she wanted. No matter what she did, it would hurt the Christians. Let’s burn the wafer, she thought. She envisioned herself showing the ashes to Catholics, then to fellow enemies of the Church interested in seeing the people’s faith destroyed. This was a good idea!
She went to her kitchen, to her stove. She filled a pot with oil, and heated it. She couldn’t wait for it to begin smoking and boiling. Then she would throw her prize into the fire. She waited for what seemed like an eternity, until the oil was bubbling. Then with great pomp and ceremony, she threw the white Host into the fire. She watched for the results.
To her shock and astonishment, the Host turned into Flesh immediately, upon contact with the oil. The Flesh began to Bleed profusely, bursting from the Host as if it were hemorrhaging, gushing into the oil, mixing with it, almost consuming it. The contents of the pot began to overflow, Blood cascading down onto the floor, as it continued to gush out of the Host-turned-Flesh like a geyser. The woman panicked! She was terrified. She didn’t know what to do. She tried to hide the crime by sopping up the Evidence, but the more she did, the more the Blood flowed. Realizing the evil, she had done and unable to undo it, she began to weep uncontrollably, shedding tears of true remorse. He really was present in the Host, and now through her, He was bleeding, and she could not stop it. She had wounded Him. She cried out in pain, like a woman in labor. People near by, upon hearing her screams, at first were curious but soon became alarmed. The neighbors ran into the house to see what had happened. Her hands and dress full of Blood. She tried to compose herself. She began to share the whole ugly plot. It didn’t take long for them to understand what treachery against their God had taken place in this house.
Some Catholic women ran to the Bishop’s house to inform him of the sacrilege. Others summoned the Pastor of the church. Upon seeing His Lord’s Blood, he immediately prostrated himself on the floor, kissing His Savior’s spilled Blood. He returned to the church, vested up, and immediately led a Procession of Penance, with Altar servers carrying lit candles, in the direction of the witch’s house. The whole town followed the cortege, even the authorities. Remember, at this time, the Catholic Church was the official religion of the country. Actually, Italy was part of the Holy Roman Empire. All Europe was Catholic. A sacrilege or blasphemy against the Church was the same as a crime against the state, and punishable in the fullest extent of the law.
The Pastor took the remaining bleeding Flesh out of the pot and brought It, in reverent procession, back to the Cathedral of Trani. The number of villagers kept increasing, as they poured out of their homes to accompany their Lord, miraculously with them, back to safety. A beautifully ornate, silver Monstrance was designed in the shape of a house, with four pillars, and a dome overhead, for their Lord to repose in. In the center of the Reliquary is a crystal lunette containing the two Particles of the fried Host, of unequal size and shape. The color of the larger Portion of the Host is dark brown, and that of the smaller Piece is bright reddish brown. It has been determined that this was most likely caused by the difference of the intensity of heat, one side of the Host was subjected to, when It was fried versus that which the other half of the Host suffered. The Blood soaked Host is incorrupt, till today, and can be seen and venerated, in the Cathedral. It is a most beautiful tribute to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
As this was a crime, punishable by death, the sorceress was executed, but not before confessing her sins, asking for pardon of the Lord, she now believed in. They say, you could see the Heavenly Angels battling the fallen ones for her soul. The witch’s house was reserved right from the beginning, for the Faithful as a place of reverence since the miracle occurred there. Then in 1706, it was made into a chapel, with the title of Most Blessed Savior, SS Salvatore. There in the chapel, is a marble plaque which tells the entire story. Was the fault all hers, or was it the ignorance of the people who contributed to the crime? Who was their God, really? Had they not turned to her at times, for help? If they had believed, and been strong and resolute in that belief, maybe she might not have dared to do the horrible thing she did.
The Miracle was probed and poked for centuries with always the same conclusion. It happened, and it was through the Lord’s generous Heart that it came about and remains, till today. Pope Urban VI went to Trani in 1384, and declared in his Bull that the Host was miraculously preserved.
Over the years, Bishops have authenticated this Miracle. In 1841, during a Pastoral visit, Archbishop Gaetano da Franci, had the Miracle examined, and he concluded that the Host had not been conserved except by the Will and intervention of God, and placed his seal of approval on the Miracle.
In 1924, The Inter-Diocesan Eucharistic Congress was celebrated in Trani, in which there was an immediate recognition of the Precious Miraculous Host by the mandate of Archbishop Joseph Marie Leo. Before that in 1886, the Eucharistic Miracle was examined and the results were that it occurred through Divine intervention.
Traveling from distant provinces, Kings and Queens, Dukes and Duchesses, Lords and Ladies, the wealthy and the poor came, saw and believed, and upon believing, turned to their Savior Miraculously Present in the Host.
“All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.”5 Do you believe in the words in that statement? Do you believe, no, I mean do you really believe, that Jesus has the power over everything in Heaven and on earth? Do you project that belief to others inside the church, and non-believers outside the church? Is your belief so strong that no one would dare come up against that belief, for fear of how you would react?
This article is an Excerpt from Miracles of the Eucharist Book II
1Maxmilian Kolbe died on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1941, one year before the first Jews were brought to Auschwitz.
2from chapter on Bl. Edith Stein, in Bob and Penny Lord’s book: “Martyrs, They died for Christ”
3the forty days of Lent
4Doesn’t that sound like Lucifer when he, the father of lies, called God a liar, in the Garden of Eden.