Dec 02, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Mysterious Bleeding Communion Wafer Appears in Utah

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.

glass on shelf 570x380
The bleeding wafer is now in the possession of the Salt Lake City diocese investigators

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.

Serratia marcescens on bread 570x427
Serratia marcescens can make a piece of bread look like it's bleeding

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.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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