The Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires (1996)
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One of the most important teachings of the Catholic Church is one of the most difficult teachings we are asked to believe that Jesus is really physically present in the Bread and Wine consecrated by the priest during the Holy Mass. In fact, even some priests through the ages struggled with this Catholic belief but God recognizes that many of us need help to believe and from time to time has provided for us clear proof – miracles to help us with our faith in the Real Presence of His Son in the Eucharist.
Some of these miracles happened long ago. Some happened in recent times. One of these is a Eucharistic Miracle that took place in 1996 in a church in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the diocese of Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio who would become our current Pope Francis. This is what happened.
At 7’o clock in the evening of August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host at the back of the church. Someone had dropped it and had not wished to consume the dirty host. Fr. Alejandro went and retrieved the unconsumed Eucharist. As the practice in these situations, he placed it in a container of water and put it away in the Tabernacle to sit so that it could dissolve. Fr. Alejandro knew that in several days the Eucharist would dissolve that he would be able to respectfully dispose of it by watering a plant with the water.
On Monday, August 26th upon opening the Tabernacle, Pezet saw to his amazement that the Host has not dissolved but rather it had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Bergoglio who gave him instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6th. It clearly showed that the Host which had become a fragment of bloody flesh had grown significantly in size. For several years the Host remained in the Tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, the now Archbishop Bergoglio decided it to be scientifically analyzed.
On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Archbishop’s representatives, Prof. Dr. Ricardo Castañon, a neuro-psychophysiologist was given permission to take a sample of the bloody fragment for testing and he brought it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of where the sample came from. One of these scientists was Dr. Frederick Zugibe, the well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist.
Zugibe determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. As he looked down at his microscope, he said: “I can tell you exactly what this is. This flesh is part of the muscle of the heart found on the wall of the left ventricle. It’s the muscle that gives the heart its beat and the body its life. I can see infiltrated in this tissue white blood cells and that tells me two things: 1) that this heart was alive at the moment that the sample was taken because white blood cells die outside of a living organism and also 2) these white blood cells address injury. So this heart has suffered. This is the sort of thing I see in patients that have been beaten about the chest.”
Two Australians, journalist Mike Willesee and lawyer Ron Tesoriero, involved in the investigations also witnessed these tests. Knowing where the sample had come from, they were dumbfounded by Dr. Zugiba’s testimony. Mike Willesee asked the scientist how long the white blood cells would have remained alive if they come from a piece of human tissue which had been kept in water. “They would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes,” Dr. Zugiba replied. The journalist then told the doctor that the source of the sample had first been kept in ordinary water for a month and then for another three years in a container of distilled water. Only then had the sample been taken for analysis. Dr. Zugibe was at a loss to account for this fact. There was no way of explaining it scientifically he stated. Only then did Mike Willesee informed Dr. Zugiba that the analyzed sample came from a consecrated Host, white unleavened bread that had mysteriously turned into bloody human flesh.
Amazed by this information, Dr. Zugiba replied: “How and why a consecrated Host would change its character and become living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science, a mystery totally beyond recompetence.
Then Dr. Ricardo Castañon arranged to have the lab reports from the Buenos Aires miracle compared to the lab reports on a relic from a simpler miracle that took place in Lanciano, Italy over 1,200 years ago. Again, without revealing the origin of the test samples, the experts making the comparison concluded that the two lab reports must have originated from test samples obtained from the same person. They further reported that both samples reveal an AB+ blood type. They are all characteristic of the man who was born and lived in the Middle East region.
How can the events of the miracle of Buenos Aires be explained? Only faith in the extraordinary action of a God provides a reasonable answer. Faith in a God who wants to make us aware that He is truly present in the Mystery of the Eucharist.
As a result of his investigation of this and other miracles, Dr. Ricardo Castañon, who was a staunch atheist most of his life, converted to Catholicism.
Whenever you receive Communion, may the miracle of Buenos Aires help to remind you of the awesome miracle and sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist. Allow Him to nourish you with His Presence!