Treasures of the Church- Eucharistic Miracles
The Eucharistic Miracle of
from 1730 - up to present...
1730, Siena was no longer the city of great devotion during which
St. Catherine and St. Bernadine lived. Rather, it was a place like
many others in Europe where religious feast days were occasions for
entertainment. The meaning and religious value of the feasts had
been lost. All would gather in the Plaza of the Camp to celebrate a
day off from work.
By the middle of the 16th century, Europe was very involved in the
Renaissance. People were interested in art and culture. Although
many would go to Church, they were not necessarily moved by a
profound love for the Eucharist or the Virgin Mary. This is why in
1730 Siena needed a miracle, a grace from God for its spiritual
renewal. In reality, it was not only Italy but all of Europe that
needed a change that would make everyone drop to their knees and
place their attention on the power of God. In these situations, our
Lord does not abandon his people.
Story of the Miracle
Siena actually has two Eucharistic miracles, but the most famous one
is told here. The second one is found in the basilica of Casia.
On the morning of the day before the feast of the Assumption, the
priests of all the churches of Siena consecrated additional hosts in
anticipation of the great number of people who would be receiving
Communion the following day. All went to the splendid Duomo, the
Cathedral, to plan the festivities of the following day and to take
part in the Ceremony of the Vigil that night. Since all the priests
were in the Cathedral, the churches were empty.
On the night of August 14th, robbers entered the Basilica of Saint
Francis which is located at the extreme northern part of the city.
They opened the tabernacle to steal the golden ciborium that
contained the consecrated hosts. They took everything- the hosts and
No one found out about the crime until the following morning, when
the priests of the church went to celebrate the Mass of the
Assumption. Everyone panicked. The proof of the crime was confirmed
when someone brought the cover of the ciborium that he had found on
the street in front of the church. The entire town began to look for
the lost hosts. All the celebrations were suspended.
The Archbishop asked for prayers in public so that the consecrated
hosts may appear in a good state. Up until that time no one knew of
the reason why the hosts had been stolen. Could it be because of the
gold material of the ciborium or for a more diabolic purpose, to
profane and commit sacrileges against our Savior? Once again, our
Lord permits Himself to be vulnerable before the evil of men and to
totally place Himself in our hands.
Three days later, on August 17th, meanwhile a man was praying inside
the church of Saint Mary in Provenzano, which is very near the
Basilica of Saint Francis, he noticed that there was something white
inside the box for the poor. This white thing had a round shape and
seemed to light up. Immediately he went to communicate this to the
pastor of that church who then informed the Archbishop who in turn
sent one of his assistants to that church.
When the Archbishop’s representative and a priest of the Basilica of
Saint Francis arrived at the church of Saint Mary, they opened the
box for the poor and they found a great number of hosts. Some had
been tangled with the spider webs inside the box and others fell to
the bottom. They counted them to see if any one host had been lost.
The pastor of the church of Saint Francis said that it was the right
quantity, 348 whole hosts and 6 halves. The priest had consecrated
351 hosts on August 14th.
How long were those three days during which the hosts were lost!
Those three days seemed like the days between the Crucifixion and
A sigh of relief and praise to the Lord resonated for two reasons.
One reason was that the consecrated hosts had been found and the
other reason is that not one was missing; that was what everyone had
feared- if the robbers were interested in the ciborium, then they
would throw away the consecrated hosts anywhere, even the garbage.
They gathered all of the hosts and cleaned them with utmost care.
They took them to the church of Saint Francis in a procession
accompanied by a great number of people. Once they arrived in the
church, they exposed them for veneration and reparation. The story
of the burglary dispersed throughout the entire country and many
began to make pilgrimages to the church of Saint Francis to pray
before the consecrated hosts. This happened before they knew that a
miracle would occur through them.
The hosts were not distributed amongst the faithful. There is no
certain explanation of why the hosts were not distributed. One of
the reasons might be that since a great multitude of people from
Siena and neighboring towns would come to venerate the hosts then
the priests were obliged not to consume them. Another possibility is
that although the hosts were carefully cleaned, they were still left
somewhat dirty. In cases like these, in which the consecrated hosts
were in one way or another contaminated, it is not a requirement to
consume them. Generally, they are reserved until they deteriorate on
their own. When this occurs, the Real Presence disappears from them.
It is possible that the Franciscans wanted to leave the hosts to be
venerated by the pilgrims until they deteriorated on their own, and
that would have been the end of everything. However, this never
Before the amazement of the priests, the hosts would not
deteriorate, but rather they maintained fresh and with a very
pleasant scent. As time passed, the Franciscans were convinced that
they were witnessing a continuous miracle of preservation. Bishops
and cardinals were allowed to receive some of the hosts. They
reported that their taste was fresh and pleasant.
Fifty years after the hosts were recovered, an official
investigation was conducted to prove the authenticity of the
miracle. The superior general of the Franciscan Order, Father Carlo
Vipera, examined the hosts on April 14th of 1780, consuming one and
proving that it was fresh and incorrupt. Since hosts had been
distributed in previous years, the superior ordered that the 230
hosts that remained should be placed in a new ciborium and he
prohibited any further distribution of the hosts.
Nine years later, in 1789, a more detailed investigation was made by
the Archbishop of Siena. This investigation included prominent
theologians and other dignitaries. After examining the hosts under a
microscope, the committee declared that they were perfectly intact
and that they did not show any sign of decomposition or a change of
color. Three Franciscans who had been present in the previous
investigations were questioned by the Archbishop, under oath. In
this investigation it was also reasserted that the hosts examined
were the same that had been stolen in 1730 and found three days
It was in this investigation that the Archbishop ordered that a
quantity of unconsecrated hosts be placed inside a container
hermetically sealed and kept under lock for ten years in the office
of the Chancellery. The miraculous hosts were kept in a ciborium,
not hermetically sealed, but rather in the manner they had been
reserved for the last 59 years.
At the end of the ten year time period, the container of
unconsecrated hosts was opened before the presence of the archbishop
and various officials. They found that they were discolored,
disfigured, and deteriorated. So they checked the miraculous hosts
and found that they were in perfect condition. In 1850, a similar
test was made, having the same results. The unconsecrated hosts were
reduced to dust and the miraculous hosts maintained their freshness.
Other investigations were made in different occasions. The most
important one was in the year 1914 and took place by petition of
Pope Pius X. For this investigation a panel of distinguished
researchers was selected, including scientists and professors from
Siena and Pisa, as well as theologians and ecclesiastic officials.
Tests with acid and starch were made on one of the fragments and
they indicated a normal level of both. From a microscopic test it
was concluded that the hosts had been made from flour of churned
wheat which was perfectly preserved.
The commission explained that if unleavened bread was prepared under
clean conditions and was stored in a container where air did not
enter and that was sterilized, then it could be preserved for a long
time. Unleavened bread prepared in a normal manner, exposed to air,
and the activity of the microorganisms may remain intact for a few
It was concluded that the stolen hosts were prepared without any
scientific precautions and kept under ordinary conditions that
should have caused them to deteriorate rapidly. The hosts were so
perfectly preserved that after 184 years they could still have been
Siro Grimaldi, a chemistry professor of the University of Siena and
director of the municipal laboratory, and renowned for his many
distinguished positions in the area of chemistry, was the head of
the investigation committee of the year 1914. He gave many
conferences on the miraculous nature of the hosts and he even wrote
In 1922, another investigation took place before the presence of the
bishops of Siena, Montepulciano, Folignno, and Grosseto. The results
were the same as the previous ones. There was no natural explanation
that would explain why the hosts would have remained without
corrupting for so long a period (192 years). They proclaimed it a
In 1950, the miraculous hosts were removed from its previous
ciborium and placed in a more elaborate and costly one that caught
the attention of another robber. This one, during the night of the
fifth of August of 1951, committed another sacrilige against the
hosts, but this time only the ciborium was stolen, leaving the hosts
in a corner of the tabernacle. After counting 133 hosts, the
archbishop stored them sealed inside a silver ciborium. They were
photgraphed and placed in an elaborate reliquary in which they are
still found to this day.
The bishops and officials of the Church solemnly went in procession
with the hosts through the city, and had them exposed for some time.
The miraculous hosts are publicly exposed on various occasions, but
especially on the 17th of each month which commemorates the day that
they were found in 1730. On the feast of Corpus Christi, the sacred
hosts are taken through a triumphant procession throught the streets
Amongst the many who had visited the miraculous hosts to adore the
Lord, one can name Saint John Bosco and Pope John XXIII who on May
29th of 1954 signed the books of visitors. Although they could not
physically visit the Eucharistic miracle, Popes Pius X, Benedict XV,
Pius XI, and Pius XII made official declarations of great interest
On September 14th of 1980, Pope John Paul II went to Siena to
venerate the Eucharistic Miracle in honor of the 250th Anniversary
of the Miracle of the Hosts.
With a unanimous voice, the faithful, priests, bishops, cardinals,
and popes have been marvelled by and venerated the hosts,
acknowledging that in them one finds a permanent miracle, complete
and perfect, that has lasted for 250 years. Through this miracle the
hosts have remained complete and with a natural brightness, and with
a color characteristic of unleavened bread. Since they are in a
perfect state of conservation, the Catholic Church assures us that
although they were consecrated in 1730, they continue to truly be
the Body and Blood fo Christ.
Every Friday at night, at 6pm, a Rosary is prayed followed by the
celebration of the Holy Mass, followed by Benediction with the
Miraculous Hosts. Father Antonio Giannini was the guardian of this
Eucharistic miracle for many years. We met him in the pilgrimage
made in 1993. His love for the Eucharist was very profound and he
dedicated a great part of his life to study the various Eucharistic
miracles around the world. For Father Giannini, this miracle of
Siena has great meaning and importance for the faithful, since the
Lord has maintained it preserved and in the original form of
Could it be that the Lord wants to show us the importance of
maintaining fidelity to a pure faith, without mixing ourselves with
anything that can dilute it or minimize it?
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