Claire Dwyer shares how a Eucharistic miracle in 1996 demonstrates just how human the Sacred Heart is.
When I was a little girl, my family would pray the Rosary every night before an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I’d look at that luminous Heart, aglow, and the long fingers of Our Lord solemnly pulling back the folds of his robe to reveal its fire and its wounds.
I never questioned it or wondered about it, really — it was just part of our life and I’m grateful it was. I’ve grown deeper in love with this devotion, and now with a family of our own, a similar image hangs inside our front door, right where we consecrated our home to the Sacred Heart.
But can we lose something in the pious images, slightly soft and sentimental? Can we forget that it is real flesh and blood?
Here’s a miraculous story about the Eucharist that begs us to consider carefully just how human this Heart is.
The most recent Eucharistic miracle occurred in 1996 in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The cardinal there at the time was Cardinal Bergoglio. (Does that name sound familiar? It should. He was our future Pope.)
In a church in Buenos Aires on the evening of August 18, 1996, a woman approached Fr. Alejandro Pezet as he was finishing up distributing Holy Communion to tell him that she had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the back of the Church. Fr. Pezet went over and put the host reverently into a container of water and placed it in the tabernacle — a practice which would have allowed the host to dissolve, and then the water poured into the sacrarium (a special sink found in the sacristy). However, eight days later, when he opened the tabernacle, Fr. Pezet was shocked to see that the host had turned into a bloody substance.
He told Cardinal Bergoglio, who asked that the host be photographed. For several years, the host was kept secretly in the tabernacle. Finally, when the host had not still shown any signs of decomposition, the Cardinal decided to have it analyzed.
A sample was sent to New York and the team of scientists was not given any information about the substance.
One of the scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, who testified that the substance was real flesh and blood and that:
“The analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”
How much we are loved. How much suffering Jesus endured for our sake. How real is the Heart that beats for us, that at every Mass it becomes present again on the altar and then unites itself — flesh and blood, beating and alive and under stress and suffering still — with us when we receive Him.
This is not just sentimentality. When we say Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, we mean Body and Blood — including a Heart that pulses in every tabernacle.
And the fact that we are loved not just by Jesus as true God but as true Man … what a reminder and an affirmation that Our Lord is completely divine but completely human and that His resurrected Body is alive and he loves us with a human heart and with a human love. That the Incarnation, because of the Resurrection, not only means that He walked the earth long ago but that He lives among us still.
If we are still, if we can quiet ourselves, maybe, like John the Apostle, we can place our head on His chest in our prayer and hear the very sound of God’s love.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses, have mercy on us.
About the Author
Claire Dwyer lives is Phoenix with her husband and six children, and she loves leading a large women’s Endow group. She works full-time for the Avila Foundation on their website, SpiritualDirection.com. She contributes regularly to the National Catholic Register and would love to keep in touch through her own blog, EvenTheSparrow.com, where she shares timeless wisdom for modern women.