‘Bleeding host’ was mold, not miracle, according to diocese

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KEARNS, Utah - It turns out the "bleeding host" was not a miracle, it was mold, according to the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

The diocese investigated the event some were calling a miracle inside the Saint Xavier church in Kearns.

Officials released this statement Wednesday:

"In November of 2015, it was alleged that a consecrated host (communion bread wafer) from Saint Francis Xavier Church in Kearns, Utah, appeared to be bleeding. A thorough investigation has concluded that the host did not bleed, but the change of appearance in the host was due to red bread mold. The consecrated host has been disposed of in a reverent manner, as is required."

Back in November, during the holy communion, a host was returned to the father overseeing the service.

A host is the small wafer handed out as part of the communion.

The priest placed the host in glass of water near the head of the church.

Typically, the host will dissolve away in a few minutes.

Three days later, members of the church say the host was still floating and it appeared to be bleeding.

Word spread and the church filled with people; the host was even on display for a short time.

The Salt Lake City Diocese took the host and appointed a committee to look into the incident.

The head of the committee, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, issued this statement Wednesday on the conclusion of the investigation:

The work of an investigative committee proceeded as follows:

At Saint Francis Xavier Church in Kearns, Utah, on the weekend of November 14-15 of 2015, it was alleged that a host consecrated a week earlier at the 1:30 p.m. Mass on November 8 appeared to be bleeding. The host was publicly displayed at the Parish Masses. In the wake of the excitement generated by the premature and imprudent public display and veneration of the host, an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter was appointed on November 19, 2015 by the Administrator of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw. This ad hoc committee included individuals with expertise in Catholic theology, canon law, molecular biology and ministry.

The committee took into careful consideration all the events as reported by Reverend Eugenio Yarce, Pastor at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Kearns, Utah, and the numerous narratives offered by parishioners. A crucial element of these events was the fact that the host in question was left unprotected and unattended in a dish of water from approximately November 8 – 14, 2015.

In an expeditious but careful manner the committee enlisted the services of a competent and credible scientist to conduct controlled testing of the host. Great care was taken to ensure the reverent handling of the consecrated host throughout the scientific examination. Upon completion of the prescribed tests, the scientist, with the assistance of a blind observer, concluded that the observed change in the host could be satisfactorily and conclusively explained by natural causes, namely the growth of what is commonly known as “red bread mold,” or red bacteria, most likely Neurospora cressa or Serratia marcescens.

Due to the public display of the host, a number of reports, complete with digital photographs and videos, rapidly began circulating in both the local and national media. Predictably, these reports led to rash speculation about what caused the change in the color of the host.

In the history of the Church, by Divine Providence, miracles have taken place. The sole purpose of a miracle is to bring about good. False claims of miracles, on the other hand, cause harm to the faithful and damage the Church’s credibility. While not dismissing the possibility of miracles, understanding the potential harm of hastily jumping to conclusions should cause all the faithful, lay and clergy alike, to act with great prudence. The guidance of competent ecclesiastical authority is required when confronted with phenomena like that reported from Saint Francis Xavier Parish last month.

The Church presumes that most situations appearing to be extraordinary phenomena are actually the result of natural causes. This is why the Church sets the evidentiary bar for proving a miracle quite high. In such matters the Church undertakes a thorough and unprejudiced examination of events that may appear to be miraculous. If, after a thorough investigation, the specific phenomenon can be satisfactorily and conclusively explained in natural terms, then a directly supernatural cause is ruled out. The alleged “bleeding host” from Saint Francis Xavier Parish is explained as a natural phenomenon.

After a thorough investigation, the ad hoc committee unanimously concludes that the observed change in the host was not miraculous but resulted from the growth of red bread mold. In addition, the ad hoc committee determined the need to establish proper protocols for clergy dealing with such situations in the future. Catholics should take this opportunity to renew their faith and devotion in the great miracle of the Real Presence which takes place at every Eucharist.

Reverend Monsignor M. Francis Mannion,
Chairman of the Ad Hoc Investigation Committee

10 comments

  • Josaphat Watch

    The most interesting part of this ‘closed case’ was the fact that the scientist said the ‘bleeding’ host COULD BE explained as red mold. Um….does he have a microscope? Because if he didn’t conclusively dentify mold spores on the host I don’t see how he resolved any inquiry at all. And in that case, it would indeed be a scientific mystery – the root of all miracles.

    • bob

      I would be a true miracle to find any bit of bread that DOESN’T have mold spores on it. They’re everywhere. And it only takes one.

    • laytonian

      Read. It was SO OBVIOUSLY mold that no further testing was required. It “could be” one of a couple of kinds of mold or another kind.
      Your salivating for a “miracle” (none of which exist and are easily explained events) doesn’t make this one.

  • bob

    Which leaves the “unexplained” cases. Now….do we assume that “unexplained” means “miracle”? Or do we consider the possibility that we simply don’t know everything?

  • Carol

    I am puzzled as to why the consecrated Host did not dissolve as expected. It was in water for several days yet appeared to remain intact.

  • Carol

    Perhaps someone could replicate the findings with an unconsecrated host. Does the bread dissolve quickly? If one contaminates the bread with each of the “red mold” species, does it bleed into the water, turn red, remain intact for several days, etc? The protocols should include the continued presence of a competent parishioner/observer to eliminate evidence tampering.

  • cecile

    You were given a great miracle with a bleeding host and you are trying to say it’s mold ???… Good luck when you stand before our Lord and He asks you WHY … It was a miracle and you don’t even recognize it. Wow I can’t believe it.

  • Thomas Langdon

    We’ve found that most of the miracles in Exodus have explanations, it seems to take away the “magic” so to speak. While the bleeding host may have a scientific explanation, why not still believe that God was allowing it to remind us of Jesus sacrifice.?

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