The Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem…”In the darkness of the room, a great miracle occurred. From the chest brilliant rays of light..They saw a spectacular vision of angles adoring the Holy Host bleeding.”
Date of the miracle Several historians form the XV century affirmed to have read the original document that disappeared relating the data on the miracle on February 16th 1247. Other documents related the miracle to the date of the year 1266, the registered date commissioned by King Alfonso IV is 1346. The difference in the dates could have been to the fact that the same host has been the cause of innumerable miracles in different years.
The first miracle An unhappy woman lived in Santarem between the years of 1225 and 1247, because she was convinced that her husband was unfaithful. She tried all the possible means to bring back her husband with out any results. Desperate before her situation, she turned to sorcery visiting the soccer of the town. She promised her that her husband would again love her like before, but with the condition that she would pay her with a consecrated Host. This frightened very much the women, she knew this to be a sacrilege, but finally yield to it. After receiving communion in her parish church of Saint Stephen, she did not consume the host but left the church immediately took the host out of her mouth and placed it in her head scarf.
On her way to the sorceress house, the Holy Host started to bleed. The woman did not realized this was happening until the people passing by informed her, thinking that she was bleeding. The woman’s heart started to panic. She went home and placed the Host covered in the scarf at the bottom of a chest made of wood where she kept personal items in her room. She remained there with fear all day until night time.
When her husband arrived late that evening, they went to sleep, with the possibility that she herself did not rest much. The guilt of her sin tormented her, and also the idea that perhaps the Host continued to bleed.
In the darkness of the room, a great miracle occurred. From the chest brilliant rays of light shined through, allowing the couple to awakened. They saw a spectacular vision of angles adoring the Holy Host bleeding. The woman no longer contained herself and confessed the great sin to her husband. Both repented and spent the rest of the night kneeling in adoration and reparation before the miraculous Host.
The next morning they informed the parish priest. He went to the house and heard the story from the woman. The priest returned the Host to the Church of St. Stephen in a solemn procession, accompanied by many priest and lay people. The host continued to bleed for three days. Finally it was decided to place the holy host (still bleeding) in a reliquary made of beeswax. The holy host remained their until a second miracle occurred.
Second Miracle (1340?) The priest enclosed the holy host in the beeswax reliquary and placed it in the tabernacle. This is were the second miracle occurred. When the priest opened the tabernacle door, the beeswax reliquary disintegrated in small pieces. In its place was a recipient made of glass that contained the blood of the host together with the beeswax. We can contemplate it together with the main reliquary that dates from 1782. Since the XVIII century this reliquary remains in the Eucharistic throne on the mayor altar. Today it is known as the Sanctuary of the Holy Miracle.
The miracles continue Through the centuries, the Host has bleed repeatedly and several images have been seen in the host, images of our Lord Jesus. Among the many witnesses, is Saint Francis Xavier, the missionary apostle of India who saw the sanctuary of the miracle before departing to the missions. It is known that an archbishop of Lisboa broke the glass reliquary trying to detain the bleed flow.
Blessed Sacrament Processions Since the occurrence of the miracle until today, every year, on the second Sunday of April, the Eucharistic Miracle is taken in procession from the house where the couple lived and the miracle occurred, the Via delle Stucie to the Church of the Miracle. The house has been a chapel since 1684.
The Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem is considered the most important after the Miracle of Lanciano Studies and canonical investigations have been made during the years, being the most important the one in 1340 and 1612, which proved without doubt the authenticity and antiquity of the Eucharistic Miracle. Only once did the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem leave the city, when Napoleon troops invaded Portugal in 1810. Threatened by the French and fearing the profanation, the Eucharist was taken to Lisboa, the Church of Pacao. The people of Santarem protested has time passed and the Eucharistic Miracle was not returned to them. The Eucharistic Miracle was returned in secret, to prevent resistance from the capitalians, who where not informed of the Eucharistic Miracle returning to Santarem on Dec. 2, 1811.
The sanctuary was restored by Rev. Antonio Francisco Marques, bishop of Santarem solemnly opening the doors on Dec. 7th, 1996. Today it has a small museum in the main altar. The Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem is exposed for pilgrims who request it, able to be contemplated closely. The Holy Blood has been liquified, 750 years after the miracle occurred. The old, original group (Real Brotherhood of the Sacred Miracle) in charge of safekeeping the Holy Miracle still exists today.
Popes that have granted Plenary Indulgence to the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem: Pope Pio IV: (1559-1565) granted Indulgence to pilgrims who visit the Church. Pope St. Pio V and Pope Pio VI: granted privileges to pilgrims that visit the Church. Pope Gregory XIV (1590-1591): granted Plenary Indulgence to all the members of the Real Brotherhood of the Sacred Miracle on the day they entered the brotherhood and the day of their death.
Saints that are in some way united to Santarem and the Eucharistic Miracle Saint Irene : Santarem in Portuguese means “Saint Irene”, patron of the city. She is a martyr of the year 653. In the Church of St. Irene we can find the Miraculous Crucifix of Monteiraz. Chuch documents relates that the Body of our Lord became alive (like the Miracle of Limpias), Jesus arm came down from the crucifix and embraced a small shepherd girl of the time of the Eucharistic Miracle. The crucifix belonged to a community of the 12 benedictine monks (Abby of 12 apostles) is from the XII century, it is still venerated today.
Saint Stephen: martyr and patron of the Church of the Holy Miracle. Saint Leonor Alfonso : daughter of the King D. Alfonso, who became a religious of the order Poor Clares and is buried in the Monastery of Santarem.
Saint Francis Xavier: visited most of the sanctuaries of Portugal. He also visited the Church of the Holy Miracle before being sent to missions in India by the King of Portugal. St. Francis Xavier’s image is venerated in the Church of the miracle. Saint Isabel of Portugal: most of Portugal’s Kings of that time visited the Eucharistic Miracle . The most famous visit was from two visits that Queen Saint Isabel(Isabel of Aragon), in 1295 and 1322.
Her first visit was during her trip to Coimbra coinciding with the feast of St. Irene. The second visit was to request before the Holy Miracle peace between her husband, King Dionisio and her son, the future Alfonso VI, who were in discord.
She requested the Holy Host be taken in procession in the streets. She herself accompanied the procession, deposing of her royal vestments, her crown and jewels. She covered herself with ashes, walked barefoot, with a rope around her neck. This act of penance from the Queen was very pleasing to the Lord, granting her the grace of peace and reconciliation between her husband and son.