It’s a possible miracle that has happened before, but probably not in the Mormon state of Utah … until now. A communion wafer or communion host used in Catholic masses was dropped in a glass of water and appeared to bleed like a flesh wound. Was it a miracle? If not, what could have caused it?
The incident occurred in November 2015. Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, say a young boy handed his host back to the priest who had given it to him. The priest put the host in a glass of water to dissolve it, but instead the wafer floated intact for three days. What’s even more strange (or miraculous, depending on your view), the host turned red and appeared to be bleeding. After many people witnessed the bleeding wafer, it was taken by the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City for an investigation.
In the ceremony known as the Catholic Mass, the host is ‘transubstantiated’ into the body of Jesus during the sacrament of the Eucharist. The hosts are treated with reverence and any that might fall or be desecrated in some way are respectfully destroyed by being dissolved in water and poured into the ground.
This is not the first “bleeding host” miracle. One occurred in 1998 in Betania, Venezuela, when a host appeared to belled during Mass. Another took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when a discarded host that was found in a candleholder after a Mass allegedly began bleeding and reportedly turned into flesh. In 2011, a dropped host was placed in water at St. Augustine Church in South St. Paul, Minnesota and began to bleed instead of dissolving. All three instances were observed by many witnesses.
Could these be anything but miracles? Microbiologists say the bleeding could actually be a red bacterium, Serratia marcescens, which can grow on wet bread. If the unconsecrated wafers are stored in a damp place, it could grow on them and show up when immersed in water.
While that is a possibility, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, the chair of the five-member investigative team, plans to also look into the possibility of a miracle and release its findings. Mystery, miracle or microorganism – the bleeding wafer is locked up and not currently available for public viewing.