EWTN host Michael O’Neill made his point about a major issue with Catholics and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in one stark sentence.

“In a normal Catholic Church, if you are sitting in the pews for Mass and you look to your left and look to your right, only one of the three of you believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” he told a packed crowd June 6 at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Kenosha.

After reading a Twitter post by the atheist Richard Dawkins that “Catholics believe the Eucharistic host is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and therein lies the madness,” O’Neill was shocked at hundreds and hundreds of comments from Catholics denying transubstantiation, saying they had no knowledge of this teaching.  Someone said, “No Catholic I have ever met in my entire life believes Jesus is really there.”

Brokenhearted, the award-winning author set out on a mission to prove Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist by chronicling Eucharistic miracles. His point that only about one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is taken from the results of a 2019 Pew survey.

Most known as an EWTN host and creator of the popular miracle-tracking website MiracleHunter.com, the Stanford University graduate and member of the Mariological Society of America has been interviewed on national television and was featured in the National Geographic magazine cover story and map about the Virgin Mary “The Most Powerful Woman in the World.” The Chicago resident also created and hosted the EWTN docuseries “They Might Be Saints” about the lives of future saints and the search for canonization miracles.

Speaking on the various Eucharistic miracles confirmed by the Church as well as some that are in the early stages of verification, O’Neill explained that Eucharistic miracles are an important piece of the puzzle to help understand 2,000 years of tradition. All these miracles were investigated through scientific study.

The first recognized Eucharistic miracle happened in Lanciano, Italy, around 750 to a priest who was doubting the True Presence.

“This was a Brazilian monk, and during the consecration, a ring of human flesh formed around the wafer, and five globules of blood formed in the chalice,” said O’Neill. “This was reserved in the monstrance and if you go there to Italy, you can see both the blood in the chalice and the flesh that is still there in the monstrance without preservatives for hundreds and hundreds of years.”

There are others, about 107 documented Eucharistic miracles approved for veneration by the Catholic Church over the centuries, O’Neill said. Only one Eucharistic miracle was recorded in North America, and that was in Mexico.

Most of the miracles are a manifestation of flesh and blood, but other miracles include protection, levitation, images of Jesus on the host, and with ability to survive without eating or eating little, which surprisingly accompanies stigmatics.

“Many stigmatics exist solely on the Eucharist,” said O’Neill. “There are miraculous preservations, such as in 2018, in Italy, Eucharist hosts buried due to an earthquake hundreds of years ago were uncovered and found to be perfectly preserved.”

O’Neill described another miracle near Krakow, Poland, in 1345. The Eucharistic miracle of Krakow relates to consecrated hosts that emitted an unusually bright light when they were hidden by thieves in a muddy marsh. The thieves had stolen a monstrance containing consecrated hosts from a church.  They ultimately abandoned the monstrance and hosts in a marsh outside of the village, where the miracle took place. The Church of Corpus Christi in Krakow contains paintings depicting the miracle as well as documents and depositions relating to the matter.  They processed the hosts back and this was the beginning of the Corpus Christi procession.

Some years ago, for example, Pope Francis was involved as a bishop in a famous case. A consecrated host was found on the ground, placed in water, and stored in a tabernacle. It was still intact three years later, and a sample was sent to San Francisco for testing.

“It was determined to be heart muscle, from the left ventricle and striated, showing the person was tortured. Additionally, it had white blood cells, which normally disappear quickly from the blood once someone has died. In every case, the blood was tested and shown to have come from living heart tissues and it was AB type, a very rare type, except among Middle Eastern men,” said O’Neill. “The evidence was so great that the scientist who led the study ended up converting to Catholicism.”

Many claims turn out to be fake, such as one at a parish in Utah. After scientific investigation, it turned out to be red bread mold, not a Eucharistic miracle.

Each miraculous claim begins with the local bishop establishing a chain of custody, explained O’Neill, whose book “Science and the Miraculous: How the Church Investigates the Supernatural” was published last year.

“Who had the host, when did they have it, when did they hand it off to the next person? A sample is sent to an independent lab, a non-Catholic lab. They never disclose the source. In coming back, they are looking for a report such as it is of human origin and blood muscle tissue type and they want to find out where the blood is on the host — whether it is on the outside or coming from the inside,” he said. “When the investigation is done, they will give a statement — yes or no — if this is a true Eucharistic miracle.”

O’Neill hopes that through his chronicling of these miracles, more people will draw closer to Jesus in the Eucharist.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life. In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of him reach their high point. It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ himself, our Pasch. Communion with divine life and unity of the people of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist,” he said. “Through the Eucharistic celebration, we are united already with the liturgy of heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life.”

Michael O’Neill. (Submitted photo)