MIRACLES OF THE HOLY CROSS *
Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias -Jesus comes alive on the Cross
The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias is located in the 16th century Church of St. Peter in Santander, Spain, not far from the popular alleged apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Garabandal, Spain. The Crucifix is a beautiful 6 foot life-size figure of the crucified Jesus, and is located directly above the main altar. Arranged on either side of the crucifix, and somewhat below it, are life-size figures of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary and the Apostle John. The miraculous crucifix is believed to have been the work of Pedro de Mena, who died in 1693, and the crucifix was given to the church by Father Diego de la Piedra Secadura, who had been born at Limpias in 1716.
The crucifix is a meditation on the sufferings of Our Lord portraying Him in the final moments of His agony. Measuring six feet tall, the corpus is clothed with a loin cloth that is held in place with a rope. The feet are one atop the other and are pierced with a single nail. The index and middle fingers of both pierced hands are extended as though giving a final blessing. The face of Our Lord is of particular beauty, with its glass eyes looking toward Heaven so that, for the most part, only the whites of the eyes are visible.
The First Miracle -The eyes of Jesus on the crucifix miraculously come alive
The first recorded miracle involving this crucifix took place in 1914, five years before the grand miracles of 1919. The recipient of the favor was Don Antonio Lopez, a monk belonging to the Order of the Pauline Fathers who conducted a college in Limpias. His entire account reads as follows:
“One day in the month of August, 1914, I went into the parish church of Limpias, by order of my friend D. Gregorio Bringas, to fix the electric light over the high altar. In order to be able to work more comfortably I put two large cases on the altar, and on them a ladder, the ends of which I leaned against the wall that serves as a background to the figure of the Crucified One.
“After I had worked for two hours, in order to rest myself a little I began to clean the figure so that it could be seen more clearly. My head was on a level with the Head of the Christ, and at a distance of only a couple of feet from it. It was a lovely day and through the window in the sanctuary a flood of light streamed into the church and lit up the whole altar. As I was gazing at the crucifix with the closest attention, I noticed with astonishment that Our Lord’s eyes were gradually closing, and for five minutes I saw them quite closed.
“Overwhelmed with fright at such an unexpected spectacle, I could still hardly quite believe what I saw, and was about to come down from the ladder. Notwithstanding, my bewilderment was so great that my strength suddenly failed me; I lost my balance, fainted, and fell from the
ladder onto the edge of the altar itself and down the steps into the sanctuary.
“After I had somewhat recovered, I was convinced from where I lay that the eyes of the figure on the crucifix were still closed. I pulled myself together hastily and went out in order to relate what had happened, and also to be medically examined, for my whole body was in great pain
from the fall.
“A few minutes after I had left the church I met the sacristan, who was just going to ring the Angelus, as it was twelve o’clock noon. When he saw me so agitated and covered with dust he asked if anything had happened to me. I told him what had occurred, whereupon he said he
was not surprised as he had already heard that the Santo Cristo had closed His eyes on one other occasion, and that it was probably brought about by the working of some interior mechanism.
“I asked him to collect the tools together and to put away the ladder, and generally to tidy up everything again. Then when I reached the college I told the Fathers the whole of the above incident. I was examined, but no wounds were found on my body and no broken bones, only a few bruises of slight importance.
“Thinking that the movement I had observed in the eyes of the figure was to be attributed in any case to a mechanism, I attached no further importance to the vision, but tried, however, to find out on what occasion this fact had already been observed, but without success, as no one
could give me any information whatsoever about the matter.
“Since then I have often cleaned the crucifix, and at the same time examined it minutely, and am convinced that there is neither a spring nor any other mechanism on it. What is more, the eyes were so firmly fixed that even by pressing hard with one’s fingers they could not be made to move in the least, nor could they be turned in any direction, as I have proved myself again and again.”
Father Antonio Lopez wrote the above account of his experience at the request of his superiors, and then kept the matter to himself. It was only on March 16, 1920, a year after the many miracles of 1919, that the above declaration was made public.
The Extraordinary Miracles of our Lord on the Crucifix of Limpias in 1919 –Jesus Once Again Comes Alive
During the time of the numerous miracles of the crucifix of Christ in Limpias the practice of the Catholic faith in the village of Limpias and the surrounding area was waning. The little town that is favored with the possession of the miraculous crucifix is located on the River Ason in the northernmost part of central Spain, near the Bay of Biscay. Because of this fact it is written that the venerable old Church of St. Peter that houses the Limpias crucifix was practically deserted at the time of the first miracle in 1914, and later those that took place in 1919.
In light of this, in an effort to re-ignite devotion to the beautiful crucifix and to encourage attendance at the venerable old church, the pastor, Rev. Thomas Echevarria, decided to accomplish this by means of a mission. After applying to the Capuchin monastery at Montehano, near Santander, two priests were placed at his disposal: Friar Anselmo de Jalon and Friar Agatangelo de San Miguel, both of whom were known for their apostolic zeal and success as missionaries.
On the last day of the mission, Sunday, March 30, while the Archpriest D. Eduardo Miqueli was celebrating Holy Mass, both missionaries were occupied in the confessional. Fr. Agatangelo, however, delivered the day’s sermon based on the words, “My son, give me thy heart.” (Prov. 23:26). While he was speaking, a girl of about 12 entered the confessional of Fr. Jalon and told him that the eyes of Christ on the cross were closed. Thinking that this was the product of the child’s imagination, the priest ignored her claim until other children also came to him with the same message. After Fr. Agatangelo finished the address and was about to return to his confessional, Fr. Jalon approached him and told him of the children’s claim. Both priests then looked at the crucifix but saw nothing unusual. Presently a man in the congregation shouted for everyone to look upon the crucifix. In a few moments the people confirmed with great excitement what the children had seen. Some of the people began crying, others shouted that they had seen a miracle, others fell to their knees in prayer while others called out to God for mercy.
After the parish priest was called from the sacristy and was told that the eyes of the Crucified were opening and closing and that the figure was turning His gaze from side to side, he, too, fell on his knees to pray. But his prayer was soon interrupted by many of the people who declared that the figure was perspiring and that Fr. Jalon should climb up to the crucifix to verify it. When a ladder was produced, Fr. Jalon climbed up and saw that the perspiration covered the figure’s neck and chest. After touching the neck, he looked upon his fingers that were wet with the fluid. As verification of what had taken place, he showed his moistened fingers to the congregation. Once again agitation and excitement gripped the people so that it was a long time before they were calmed.
None of the priests saw the movements of the eyes, but Fr. Agatangelo later saw the miracle several times when he prayed alone in the church at night.
A report of all that had taken place was given by the Archpriest D. Eduardo to the bishop of Santander on April 2, 1919. This report was later published in the Boletin Eclesiastico of the diocese of Santander.
The Miraculous Apparitions of 1919 continue
The second set of public apparitions first took place on Palm Sunday, April 13, 1919, when two prominent men of Limpias approached the altar. Speaking of hallucination and mass hysteria as they looked upon the crucifix, one of them suddenly pointed upward and fell to his knees. At once the other man also fell to his knees, crying for mercy and proclaiming his belief in the miracle.
The third apparitions took place on Easter Sunday, April 20, in the presence of a group of nuns known as the Daughters of the Cross who conducted a girls’ school in Limpias. They saw both the eyes and lips of the Santo Cristo move. At this time some of their students also saw the miracle, as did a group of people who were reciting the Holy Rosary. Their experience was quickly reported to the parish priest. The manifestations were repeated almost daily from April 24.
As can be expected, the church was often filled with people from Limpias and the neighboring towns who were hoping to witness the miracle. Reverend Baron Von Kleist reports that:
“Many said that the Saviour looked at them; at some in a kindly manner, and at others gravely, and at yet others with a penetrating and stern glance. Many of them saw tears in His eyes; others noticed that drops of blood ran down from the temples pierced by the crown of thorns; some saw froth on His lips and sweat on His body; others again saw how He turned His eyes from side to side, and let His gaze pass over the whole assembly of people; or how, at the Benediction, He made a movement of the eyes as if giving the blessing; how at the same time He moved the thorn-crowned head from one side to the other. Others had the impression that a deep, submissive sigh was wrested from His breast, some believed they saw Him whisper- in short, the most varied manifestations were observed on this crucifix.”
“When I fixed my gaze for the third or fourth time on the figure I noticed that the fleshy parts entirely disappeared, so that only the skin still remained, a skeleton on which I could have made anatomical studies. The head was completely dried up, until it, like the skin that I had seen, totally vanished. After I had not seen the figure at all for some time it reappeared, but as if mummified, until later on it was also restored by degrees in its fleshy parts. Yes, I observed clearly the formation of a hypertrophy (enlargement) of the head, which then also extended to the remaining parts of the body. Each of these apparitions was repeated twice.
As noted above, most of those who saw the miracle instinctively felt the need to change locations within the church in order to verify what they had witnessed. For some, the miracle took place the first time they entered the church, but might not have taken place sometime later. For others, the miracle did not take place the first time, but occurred later in the day. Some did not see the miracle at all. As one witness testified: “The fact that these manifestations are seen by some, by others not, cannot be explained by the laws that are prescribed for nature.”
Bishop Sanchez de Castro, the Bishop of Santander, in whose diocese Limpias belongs, introduced a canonical process on July 18, 1920 in which Rome was notified of the miraculous cures and manifestations. One year and one day later, a plenary indulgence was granted for a period of seven years to all the faithful who visit the holy crucifix.
-Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us!