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LeSon Photography | profile | all galleries >> Visit ... Europe Pilgrimage 2007 >> St Stephen-Church of Holy (Eucharist) Miracle, Santarem, Portugal tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

St Stephen-Church of Holy (Eucharist) Miracle, Santarem, Portugal

Day 02 of 14. Sat Oct 02

'My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You!'
Posted at the site of the church

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We left Lisbon for 1 hour of driving to Santarem. The city was well built, clean and maintained. The bus parked off the off-sided street, with other buses against apartment buildings on a narrow lane. We walked on the street-like alleys, sometimes sharing with cars. Some car would yield, some just inched its way through crowds of people. There were traversing groups of pilgrims coming along or in opposite direction, when seeing them we knew that we were heading to the right direction, in several turns in the alleys. Our tour guide led the way.

We got to the church as the alleys opened up to an ancient, small church. We had our first Mass celebrated, in our language. It was awesome!

The inside structure was ancient with its beauty; the supporting huge columns were rebuilt in the 16th looked colossal for the size of the church with its art deco and footings. Other side rooms were well built for its time. After the Mass, we had little time to go up and around the altar to the corridor behind the church.

Here was the Holy Eucharist of 1200: My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! A sign at its door proclaimed to the faithful of the Corpus Christie, John 3:35-36.

No media recording was allowed, we were in line taking turn, with shoes taken off, one by one to go up on a narrow, single inclined stair, 10ft up, to see the Holy Eucharist in the Tabernacle, sealed away from the backside, or the viewing side high above the altar. The Miracle Eucharist was kept in a protective glass to a viewer within 1 foot of adoration. One could see the details of the host held in a class, lasting from 13th century.

I said my prayer. And receded downstairs, the downstairs room was quiet with awe, trembling reverence, people were waiting for their turn to go up.
One must cry by seeing what I just saw.

There were a group of Indian pilgrims behind us as I exited out from the corridor hallway. Another Mass was ready to celebrate as we were leaving the church, it was mid afternoon. The neighborhood was quiet, resting probably for the weekend. There were few residents seen on the streets.

We went back to the bus going through the alleys, and headed out to Fatima. The afternoon was heightened of what we just saw, and what we would be seeing next at Fatima.

_____________________The Church of the Holy Miracle ______________________
Igreja do Santissimo Milagre
1225 or 1247

Not far from the Catholic shrine at Fatima (and 45 miles north of Lisbon) is Santarem, home of a 13th-century Eucharistic miracle. The shrine, in the Church of the Holy Miracle (Igreja do Santissimo Milagre) is visited by thousands of pilgrims.

The story of the miracle involves a woman with an incurably unfaithful husband in the early 13th century, between 1225 or 1247. Desperate to regain his faithful love and save her marrige, the woman consulted a sorceress. The sorceress said she would cure the husband's infidelity if the wife could bring her a consecrated host, communion wafer.

After much deliberation, the woman decided to commit the sacrilege. The next time she attended Mass at the Church of St. Stephen, she took the wafer from her mouth, wrapped it in a veil and headed quickly for the door. But before she had taken more than a few steps, the host began to bleed. It bled so much that concerned parishioners thought she had cut her hand and attempted to help, but she ran out of the church.

Back at home, she threw the bloody host in a trunk in her bedroom. Her husband did not come home until late, as usual. In the middle of the night, they were both awoken by a mysterious light emanating from the trunk. The woman thereupon confessed what she had done to her husband, and they both knelt in repentance before the miracle. The next day, people came to the house, attracted by the light. They witnessed the miracle for themselves.

The next morning, the couple told the parish priest what had happened. The priest placed the miraculous host in a wax container and returned it to the Church of St. Stephen. Word spread quickly, of course, and the townspeople hurried to the church to see the miracle.

The next time the priest opened the tabernacle that contained the miraculous host, another miracle occurred! The wax container was found broken into pieces, and the host was enclosed in a crystal pyx. This pyx was placed in a silver monstrance, where it can be seen today.

___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.

Nineteen years passed and in 1266 when a canonical investigation was held, it was discovered that a second miracle had occurred. The Host had freed itself from the wax ball and was now in a little crystal ampoule.

Kings, Queens and Saints venerated the Relic of the Miraculous-bleeding Host with great splendor over the centuries and the object of national adoration. No fewer than half a dozen Popes granted indulgences to the Cult and Saint Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage before becoming the great apostle of India.

Miraculous phenomena occurred throughout the centuries involving the same Miraculous Host. Images were seen and new emissions of blood were common. All of this stopped however after the North American pilgrimages in the late 1950's began visiting the Shrine very frequently and abusively handling the Host. During this time the crystal ampoule was broken through the sacrilegious practice of the touching of rosaries and other religious items to It to take away as relics. By the 1970's half the glass of the ampoule had been broken off and the silver stopper removed, taken away as relics. The Host subsequently corrupted due to exposure to the air and today only particles of blood and solidified flesh are found clinging to the inside what remains of the glass ampoule.

The Relics were scientifically analyzed in 1997 for the 750th anniversary celebrations of the Miracle and proven to be genuine and of a supernatural origin. The relics of the Host and blood soaked wax were then sealed and placed in a bulletproof case atop the Eucharistic Throne above the main altar.

In 1997 the Church of Saint Stephen of the Holy Miracle was recognized as the Shrine of the Most Holy miracle.

The little house where the miracle occurred was on Via delle Stuoie in Santarem. From the time of the miracle until now, every year, on the Second Sunday of April, the incident is re-enacted by local actors. The actual Eucharistic Miracle is processed from the house, which was converted into a Chapel in 1684, to the Church.

___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.

The 12th-century church was rebuilt in the 16th century.

______HOW to get to SANTAREM________

Santarem is located 45 miles north of Lisbon and just a few miles south of Fatima. It can be accessible by train or bus. From Lisbon, take the A1 north to Santarem (exit #6). From Coimbra or Fatima (north), take A1 south to Santarem (exit #6).

In general, the bus is more efficient and economical than the train. The Santarem train station is three miles from the city center, but the bus station is only a 10-minute walk from the shrine.

Walking from the bus station, go right on Av. do Brasil and walk three or four blocks to the big intersection. Take R. Dr. T. Guedes, which runs past a post office for three blocks (you will pass the tourist office on your left). At Capelo e Ivens, turn right and walk for three or four blocks until it becomes R. Miguel Bombarda. Continue straight for another few blocks until you reach the church on your left.

Most pilgrims to Santarem stay the night in Fatima. Santarem makes a good day trip from a base in Fatima, as the Church of the Holy Miracle closes at night while Fatima has nightly processions.

The church's phone number is 0432 99 30.

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"For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. For those who believe, no explanation is necessary.
St Benedette Soubarious of Lourdes

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Eucharistic Miracle References
Evidence of the Real Presence

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