Story of the Blessed Sacrament
Taken from the book Moments Divine
St. Alphonsus in his book, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, relates a most wonderful occurrence in connection with the Holy Eucharist. He obtained the full narration of the facts written by a priest who was one of the eyewitnesses of the miracle. He also states that he read the authentic process which was drawn up by the archiepiscopal court of Naples by order of His Eminence, Cardinal Sersale, the Archbishop of Naples.
On the morning of the twenty-eighth of January, 1772, at a place called St. Pietro-a-Paterno, in the diocese of Naples, the tabernacle of the parish church in which the Blessed Sacrament was reserved was found open, and the two ciboriums, a large and small one, containing many Sacred Particles, were missing. A search was made but for a time nothing was heard about the robbers nor could any clue be obtained as to what they had done with the Sacred Hosts. At length, however, on Thursday the eighteenth of February, a certain youth, Giuseppe Crefici, saw a number of bright lights resembling stars as he was passing, in the evening, near the property of the Duke of Grottolle. The neighbors, when they became aware of the prodigy, were quite astonished and puzzled at the strange appearances. Night after night they were to be seen, and at last the conviction began to gain ground that these extraordinary lights might be a divine manifestation designating the secret spot of the missing Hosts. Accordingly, a number of pious persons gathered together and made a most careful search in the neighborhood of the lights, but all in vain. Monday evening, the twenty-third of February, a great flame was seen moving around a heap of straw. With many others, the two brothers, Giuseppe and Giovanni Crefici, went there, and as Paccino, who was a companion of the others, approached the spot, he fell suddenly upon his face; and after a few steps, Giuseppe felt himself pushed forward on the shoulders, and he also at once fell on the ground. In the same way and at the same moment the other two, Carlo Marrota and Giovanni, also fell, and all four felt their heads wounded, as if they had received a severe blow with a stick. With some difficulty the four got on their feet, and to their great amazement, beheld a light brilliant as the sun coming forth from beneath a poplar tree; and rising out of this light, to the height of about five feet, a dove fluttered in the air. Instead of rising higher, however, the dove, gliding down again to the earth at the foot of the poplar tree, disappeared, as did the light also. All the persons present gave evidence of this fact upon oath, before the Vicar General of Naples.
Several persons at once went to work digging up the ground around the poplar tree, and at length one of the diggers came upon the Sacred Hosts buried some little depth in the earth. A priest who was with them placed the Hosts, some fifty in number, in a clean linen cloth, and amid general rejoicing carried them back to the tabernacle. It has been confirmed that the Particles found on this spot had not lost their whiteness, although they had been buried for nearly a month.
On Tuesday evening, lights again appeared in the same field. From this the people concluded that they had not yet found all the Hosts. Another search was made, but in vain. Next night a quantity of tiny flames appeared around the heap of straw. A careful search was made at the exact spot, until, on raising a clod of earth, a large quantity of Particles was found lying underneath. The parish priest, after being informed of what had happened, came quickly to the spot, where he found everybody kneeling before the hidden Treasure. The Sacred Particles were placed in a Chalice, and a table with a silk covering was prepared. The Blessed Sacrament reposed on this improvised altar and around it a number of persons knelt with lighted torches, until many people, with their priests, arrived from the surrounding villages. A procession was then formed, and amid the blaze of tapers and the music of sweet hymns, the Blessed Sacrament was carried triumphantly to the Church of St. Pietro-a-Paterno. As soon as they arrived at the church, Benediction was given with the Chalice, amid the tears and cries of devotion of the people, thanking God Who had by such wonderful signs given proof of His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
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