Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
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A consecrated host that fell to the floor at a South St. Paul church and turned a blood red color is not a miracle, according to Twin Cities archdiocese officials, who said Wednesday the discoloration was instead caused by a fungus.
During mass on June 19 at St. Augustine Church, the host was accidentally dropped. To show reverence to the wafer — which Catholics believe becomes the actual body of Christ during the consecration — it was placed in a chalice-like container with water so it would dissolve.
Then it was to be poured into a special sink not connected to the sewer system. However, a week later, the host had not dissolved but had shrunk and turned a blood-red color. The church’s pastor turned over to the archdiocese what was left of the host.
The discoloration left some to question whether the church was dealing with a miracle or if something like a fungus or bacteria was the cause.
The archdiocese sent the host to an unnamed laboratory to be tested and released the results Wednesday in a statement from archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath, who said the host now has been disposed of.
“While the Catholic Church fully recognizes the possibility of miracles and remains open to their possibility, it does so with extreme scrutiny, investigation and care," he said. "This incident was the result of natural biological causes and should not be considered in any other way.”
Instances of so-called Eucharistic miracles, such as “bleeding hosts,” which emit blood, have been reported by Catholics for centuries. Archdiocese officials said that one of the most recent incidents occurred at a Catholic church in Texas. In that case, biologists determined the red coloration of the host was caused by a combination of a fungus and bacteria that were incubated in water in a glass stored in the open air.