Vatican investigates possible miracle at Connecticut church
The results of an investigation into the reports of a possible miracle at Thomaston’s St. Thomas Church have been sent to the Vatican.
On March 5, the Rev. Joseph Crowley, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, which includes St. Thomas, reported that during Holy Communion a lay person distributing hosts had found that the wafers had multiplied in the ciborium.
“God duplicated himself in the ciborium,” Crowley said after Communion. “God provides and it’s strange how God does that. And that happened.”
The Archdiocese of Hartford began an investigation into the report to determine whether a possible miracle had taken place.
Now, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been notified and is conducting its own investigation.
David Elliott, spokesman for the archdiocese, issued a statement that “reports such as the alleged miracle in Thomaston require referral to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. The Archdiocese has proceeded accordingly, and will await a response in due time.”
Elliott said no other comment would be forthcoming from Archbishop Leonard Blair or the archdiocese. Crowley did not return a call seeking comment.
St. Thomas was the final parish served by the Rev. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. McGivney has been beatified and needs one more miracle to become a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. However, that miracle would have to be connected to someone praying to McGivney directly.
The dicastery is composed of two sections, one for discipline, which handles cases of sexual misconduct, and one for doctrine, which oversees “safeguarding faith and morals and protecting their integrity from errors,” according to the Vatican’s website.
A dicastery is a group of people assembled for worship or prayer.
Michael O’Neill, known as the Miracle Hunter, said while “I’d be highly surprised that they were able to have enough evidence to declare it a true eucharistic miracle,” if the archdiocese “truly had nothing to go on, they would in fact release a very generic statement.” He said it is unlikely that the livestreamed video of the Mass showed the increase in hosts, however.
O’Neill, author of “Science and the Miraculous: How the Church Investigates the Supernatural,” said the results of his investigation probably gave Blair good reason to forward the case to the Vatican.
“I’m guessing they have the testimony of numerous people who would have been able to say that they saw something or understood that this had to have been miraculous,” O’Neill said. “So I’m guessing they’re caught in the middle a little bit not having the hard evidence but having good testimony. So they’re looking for some guidance from the Vatican.”
In March, Blair told Fox 61, WTIC, that he had appointed a priest experienced in church law to investigate the incident. He told Fox 61 the outcome of the investigation would determine whether he needed to notify the Vatican.
Blair said in a statement to The Courant in March that, “As people of faith we know that miracles can and do happen, as they did during Christ’s earthly ministry. Miracles are divine signs calling us to faith or to deepen our faith.
“Roman Catholics experience a daily miracle because every time Mass is celebrated what was bread becomes the Body of Christ and what was wine becomes his Blood. Through the centuries this daily miracle has sometimes been confirmed by extraordinary signs from Heaven, but the Church is always careful to investigate reports of such signs with caution, lest credence is given to something that proves to be unfounded,” he said.
Blair also said then, “what has been reported to have occurred at our parish church in Thomaston, of which Blessed Michael McGivney was once Pastor, if verified, would constitute a sign or wonder that can only be attributed to divine power to strengthen our faith in the daily miracle of the Most Holy Eucharist. It would also be a source of blessing from Heaven for the effort that the U.S. Bishops are making to renew and deepen the faith and practice of our Catholic people with regard to this great Sacrament.”
O’Neill said the dicastery, previously known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, can take years to come to a decision but may only take months. He said the members of the dicastery, which includes cardinals and bishops, likely would not send out an investigative team but would look at the material Blair sends them.
If the dicastery determines that a miracle occurred in Thomaston, “The archdiocese will probably acknowledge that they’ve been in communication with this dicastery and will probably talk about the recommendations,” O’Neill said. “That’s most likely what will happen. It will not be that the pope gets up on Vatican Radio and makes a proclamation. That doesn’t happen.”
There have been four recent eucharistic miracles approved by the Vatican, O’Neill said: in Poland, Mexico and Argentina. The churches in those cases were permitted to erect a shrine, he said.
In Poland — Legnica in 2013 and i Sokólka in 2008 — hosts, after accidentally falling to the floor, were determined to have traces of heart tissue in them. In 1996 in Buenos Aires, fragments of a host reportedly turned into blood. A similar event occurred in Tixtla, Mexico, in 2006, according to therealpresence.org.
“There are various types of eucharistic miracles, but the ones that are most remarkable, in my opinion, were on some rare occasions, the host is said to bleed human blood,” O’Neill said. “And according to Catholic belief, Catholics believe that at consecration, the bread and wine is not turned into a symbol of Jesus Christ but in the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. It’s the most difficult of all Catholic beliefs for sure, but that is what the church actually teaches and what faithful Catholics believe.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative text on church teachings, a miracle is defined as “a sign or wonder such as a healing, or control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power.”
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