Holy Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem
Shrine of The Most Holy Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem
The ancient city of Santarem has contained for over seven centuries the greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church after Lanciano.
The first date referring to the miracle is February 16th,1247, which several 15th Century historians affirm having read in the no longer existent primitive relation. Others refer to 1266, the date recorded on the commissioned copy of King Alfonsus IV of 1346. Given the historically documented abundance of Miracles involving the same Host, it is probable that both dates record Miracles that occurred.
The first of Major Miracle involved a poor housewife who, suffering from her husband’s constant affairs decided to consult a Jewish witch who lived near Graca Church. This witch promised an efficacious cure if as payment she would receive a Consecrated Host. To obtain the Host housewife faked an illness and thus tricked the priest of Church of St. Stephen into giving her communion on a weekday. No sooner had she taken the Sacred Particle into her mouth when she removed it and placed it in a knot in the veil she was wearing on her head.
Immediately the Host began to bleed bringing about the attention of the neighbors. Panic-stricken, the poor women ran to her home near the Church, and hid the Host in a cedar trunk where she kept her clean linens. At night, the couple was awoken by spectacular vision of angels adoring the Bleeding Host which radiated. The couple repented and converted and by dawn the priest was summoned and accompanied by numerous clergy and laity took the Host back to the Church where it could be seen to bleed for three days. Finally, it was decided to encase the Host (still bleeding) in a reliquary made from melted bees wax candles. The Host remained for long time in this Wax container which was in turn displayed in a kind of chalice until a second miracle (1266?). It was enclosed in an ampoule or bottle made of crystal.
The crystallized pieces of solidified blood mixed with wax, constitute Relics of the Precious Blood, and can also be seen today beside the Reliquary – Monstrance of 1782 with the Major relic atop the gilt 18th Century Eucharistic Throne above the main altar.
But the Miracles did not end there. Over the centuries, the Major Relic has been sent to emit fresh blood or take on various visible forms of Jesus Christ. Such witnesses to these phenomena include St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies and 16th Archbishop of Lisbon who went as far as breaking the neck of the ampoule hoping to stop the Blood-flow.
Major commissioned studies of the Holy Miracle of canonical investigations have taken place over the years, but those in 1340 and 1612, have proven indisputably Its authenticity and antiquity. The Shrine today consists of the Church of The Holy Miracle which evolved from an early 12th century Church of St. Stephen, and the nearby house or chapel where the first Major Miracle occurred. The Shrine was solemnly re-opened by D. Antonio Francisco Marques, Bishop of Santarem on March 7th ,1996, after a notable restoration job was concluded and a museum area created behind the main altar which displays objects of sacred art, associated with the cult and the visits of countless Royalty. Donations to the shrine, (today part of Marvila parish), help support the many needy of the church’s Interparish Social Services.
An ancient Royal Brotherhood of the Most Holy Miracle still exists and pilgrims are welcome to join this International Association with special privileges for members.
Among the Popes who have approved the Cult of The Most Holy Miracle and granted indulgences to pilgrims visiting the Shrine are included: Pius IV, Pius V, Pius VI and Gregory XIV. The main feasts of the Holy Miracle are held in the First and Second Sundays after Easter, and February 16th.