Treasures of the Church- Eucharistic Miracles
The Eucharistic Miracle of Avignon, France
The Albigensian Heresy
Perhaps the name of Avignon is familiar to your minds. It is famous
all over the world for being the Sanctuary of the Popes. It was the
home for the Popes from 1309 to 1377. There are other occurrences
that make Avignon important, making it an important place of
To better understand this we have to go back in time 217 years
before the miracle of 1226. The Albigenses heresy, name taken from
the city of Albi, France, was promulgating its false teachings all
through the southern part of the country. The heresy condemned all
the sacraments, especially marriage. Sexual freedom was especially
promoted by the Albigenses. The Eucharist was completely rejected.
The Albigenses were condemned by the Church since the XI century,
but it was not until the Albigenses started to attack the secular
government in countries where they were strong that they were
denounced and deprived of the law’s protection.
In 1226 the Albigenses were very strong, especially in the south of
France where Avignon is located. To fight against the Albigenses’
attacks to the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, King
Luis VIII, father of Saint Luis IX, had a church built near the
Sorgue river River in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. He also chose
the date September 14th, 1226, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy
Cross to make a public act of reparation for the sacrilege committed
by the Albigenses. A procession was made with the Blessed Sacrament
which ended in the new Church of the Holy Cross.
The King waited for the precession to arrive at the Church of the
Holy Cross. He was dressed in sac cloth with a rope around his waist
and a candle in his hand. Next to him was Cardinal Legate, his
court, and many faithful. The procession was directed by Bishop
Corbie around the entire city. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed all
night and many days afterwards until the Bishop decided that the
Blessed Sacrament should stay perpetually exposed.
This custom was followed by his successors and approved by the Holy
Father. The Church was in the care of the Grey Penitents of the
Franciscan Order. After 200 years of perpetual adoration a
spectacular miracle occurred.
The Eucharistic Miracle
The small Sorgue River passes through the city of Avignon, south of
France. The river would overflow every couple of years. When this
occurred the waters would flood the houses, farms, and the rest of
the area. At the end of November 1433, after heavy rain, a great
flood came to the region. The waters overflowed out of the river,
more so than in previous years. It was one of the worst floods ever
known in that small area.
On the evenings of November 29-30, the water level rose to an
alarming height. The Franciscan Grey Penitents were sure that the
small Church of the Holy Cross was also flooded.
The Franciscans decided to go to the Church to safe guard the
Eucharist and bring it to dry land. Two of the Superiors of the
order went on a boat and rowed their way into the Church. When they
arrived the water level was at the center of Church door. To their
surprise when they opened the door they found the entrance of the
door to the altar completely dry. The water had accumulated towards
the side walls (left and right) about four feet high. Our Lord
Jesus, in the Eucharistic Host in the monstrance on the altar, was
This was similar to the Bible story on the parting of the waters of
the Red Sea. To the Franciscan Grey Penitents it was the same thing.
They went to get other members of the order to come and verify the
The four friars prayed together and took the monstrance with the
Blessed Sacrament to a Franciscan Church on dry land.
As they placed Our Lord in the monstrance on the altar, they read
the Bible passage from Exodus on the parting of the Red Sea ( Exodus
14:21): “Moses stretched his hand over the sea and Yahweh made a
strong east wind blow all night and dry up the sea. The waters
divided and the sons of Israel went on dry ground through the middle
of the sea, with the waters forming a wall to their right and to
The Franciscans wrote all that occurred in the community register
which is still conserved to this day.
During this time a tradition was born which is still in practice
today. On the 30th of November of every year, in the chapel of the
Church in Avignon, the Franciscan Grey Penitents tie a rope around
their necks, and they piously crawl on their knees and hands to
re-create the incident, bringing to mind the path their predecessors
went through the night of the miracle.
What remains is the Church and the tradition of the miracle. But in
this tradition the friars give thanks to Our Lord Jesus in the
Blessed Sacrament for giving them a sign no smaller than the one
given to the Jews who were under Egyptian slavery during their
Pilgrims, especially those that hunger for the Eucharist, still
visit the small Church near the river to venerate and give thanks to
the Lord for giving them this special gift especially during moments
so much in need of His Strength.
The significance of the miracle
What is the significance of this miracle ? Why were the Jewish
symbols of slavery used in this miracle ? It is not known for sure.
It is speculated by some that have studied the miracle that the Lord
used this sign of the Eucharistic Miracle to liberate His people
from the slavery of sin.
In today’s world we find ourselves captive in subtle and destructive
ways. We live in a materialistic, consumeristic, immoral and atheist
Our lives are somewhat manipulated by pressure from friends, movies,
magazines, music, and television advertisements. We are exposed
daily to situations involving drugs, alcohol, abortion, sexual
relations before marriage, renunciation to the authority of parents,
selfishness and many other things. Sometimes we find ourselves
isolated from the world if we do not go along with its lifestyle.
However, we have a weapon to count on. The same miracle that
occurred in the small Church of Avignon still happens every day
during the Consecration of Holy Mass. Our daily miracle is the
Eucharist that liberates and delivers us.
We have to hold on to this miracle of the Eucharist. We have to go
fourth to embrace Jesus in the Eucharist and to take Him into our
hearts. This way we will be delivered from the slavery of the world
and all its false teachings. The Eucharistic Miracle of the Sorgue
River is probably another way the Lord says and repeats the promises
of St. Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has
anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to
captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to
announce the Lord’s year o f mercy.”
In the Eucharistic miracle that occurs everyday in Church is the
same message of the Lord.
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and