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Italy's Orvieto miracle inspires thousands during jubilee
By Elise Harris
The front entrance of the Orvieto Cathedral. Credit: Marianne Medlin/CNA.
The front entrance of the Orvieto Cathedral. Credit: Marianne Medlin/CNA.

.- In light of the jubilee instituted by Benedict XVI in honor of the Eucharistic miracle in Orvieto, Italy, the number of pilgrims coming to the area has increased, deepening the faith of those who come.

“It just makes you thankful that you can come somewhere where these things have happened that just reiterate the faith. It’s so real, it’s so tangible,” Jenna Schaffer of San Francisco, Calif., told CNA Oct. 6.

While he was Pope, Benedict XVI dedicated the years 2013 and 2014 as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Jubilee. The event celebrates the 750th Anniversary of the Bolsena Miracle of 1263, in which the Host began to bleed in the hands of the priest during the prayer of consecration.

Schaffer, who visited Orvieto with her mother and a close family friend, shared that she grew up Catholic, but has become especially close to God in recent years, and that being in the cathedral for her was “an honor.”

“It’s a great honor,” she emphasized, “to be able to hear and see what all of these people believe in and see it come true.”

The miracle occurred in 1263 when a German priest, Fr. Peter of Prague, stopped in Bolsena, Italy during a pilgrimage to Rome. The priest is described as having been pious, but found it difficult to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

During his stay, the priest was saying Mass in the Church of St. Christina in Bolsena, and had just finished the words of consecration when blood began to seep from the Host onto the altar and corporal, a special linen used during Mass in order to catch any fragments of the host which might fall.

Fr. Peter immediately journeyed to Orvieto where Pope Urban VI was residing at the time, and informed the pontiff of what had just occurred.

After hearing the priest’s account, the pontiff absolved the priest for his disbelief and had the host and blood-stained corporal brought to the Cathedral in Orvieto where they are still venerated today, and instituted the feast of “Corpus Christi” a year later.

Upon seeing the corporal in the Cathedral, Schaffer said it was “almost like trying to grasp the concept of God himself.”

“It’s a lot to take in, and it gives you a lot to reflect on, and to sit there and see where it happened, see the dedication to it,” she said. “It’s just hard to grasp that concept that this happened here. It’s just an honor.”

“It really enriched my faith.”

Gianlucca Piazza, who works at the Orvieto cathedral as a part of their security personnel, told CNA in an Oct. 6 interview that although there are many people who visit the cathedral for “artistic purposes,” most of the pilgrims come “for religious purposes.”

In context of the Jubilee called by Benedict XVI, Piazza noted that the number of pilgrims coming to the area has increased, stating that the miracle is “especially important” for Catholics.

According to Piazza, the Orvieto Cathedral still functions as a Church, with daily Mass during the week and four Masses on Sunday for those who wish to attend.

Tags: Miracles, Eucharist, Benedict XVI


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