A piece of bread miraculously became a piece of human flesh and a cup of wine miraculously turned into human blood – that’s what happened in a small Italian town of Lanciano in the 8th century and has been called the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano. The Miracle continues to this day: scientific studies concluded that although the blood and the flesh have been kept without any chemical or biological preservatives and without any protection from atmospheric elements for more than 12 centuries, the blood and the flesh (chemically and biologically) are like fresh blood and fresh blood which is impossible to explain scientifically. After providing a short history of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano I will explain how pilgrims can visit it today.
History of Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
A basilian monk was celebrating Mass in the church of St. Legontian in Lanciano in the 8th century. During the consecration part of the Mass (when Catholics believe that the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine – the Blood of Christ) the monk doubted the real presence of Christ in consecrated bread and wine. A few moments later he saw the host becoming a physical flesh and the wine becoming physical blood. The blood soon coagulated into five globules and the flesh remain the same.
The miracle was investigated and approved as authentic by the Catholic Church. Multiple scientific investigations were completed, the latest ones in 1971 and 1981 by Anatomy, Pathological Histology, Chemistry and Clinical Microscopy Professor Odoardo Linoli with assistance of Human Anatomy Professor Ruggero Bertelli. These two scientists concluded that:
The Fesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood.
The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
The Flesh consists of the muscolar tissue of the heart.
In the Flesh there are seen: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium.
The Flesh is a Heart complete in its essential structure.
The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood type: AB.
In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
In the Blood there were found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
In an interview with Zenit news agency, Professor Linoli later said that the blood group (AB) of the Flesh and the Blood of this Eucharistic Miracle is the same as the one of the Blood found on the Shroud of Turin and is characteristic to the people from the Middle East.
This Eucharistic Miracle today is kept and can be visited by pilgrims at San Francesco church in Lanciano, Italy.
Visiting the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
I wanted to visit Lanciano for many years but its remote and not easily accessible location kept me postponing the visit. I finally visited it in November 2018, during my third trip to Italy. Due to the limited hotel availability in Lanciano and the lack of clear online directions on how to reach the town by public transportation from southern part of Italy (I was traveling to Lanciano from San Giovanni Rotondo), I decided to stay in Pescara (the closest large city to Lanciano) for two nights and during that stay to make a day trip to Lanciano.
Taking a Train / Bus to Lanciano
If you travel from Rome, the easiest way to travel to Lanciano would be to take a direct bus from Rome to Lancianobut for travel from other parts of Italy, you will most likely need to travel to Pescara first and then take a train and a bus to Lanciano.
Pescara can be reached by train from Rome, Naples, Milan, and other Italian cities. You can find train schedules and buy tickets on trenitalia.com website. Ticket sale starts and the tickets are cheapest a few months before the travel date. Ticket prices get higher as the date of travel approaches. There are a few daily direct trains between Rome and Pescara and you would need to change trains while traveling to Pescara from most other places.
Pescara itself is a large and beautiful city with Adriatic Sea beaches. It has a few train stations but it is best to travel to and from Pescara Centrale station which is located in the downtown of the city and within a walkable distance to many hotels.
You cannot buy train tickets from Pescara to Lanciano on trenitalia.com website (but can still see the schedules of Pescara-Lanciano-Pescara trains on it). Trenitalia does not sell tickets because another, local transportation company (Ferrovia Adriatico Sangritana) operates trains to and from Lanciano. Pescara-Lanciano tickets are sold in Pescara Centrale station. However you will not be able to buy them in the station’s Trenitalia’s ticket kiosks – the tickets are only sold in small shops (located inside Pescara Centrale station) that sell newspapers, magazines, snacks, drinks, etc. Ask the salespeople of these small shops if they sell tickets to Lanciano or ask the train station staff for help because you will not see any signs that a particular shop is selling Sangritana tickets.
You will need to activate (stamp) your tickets before boarding the train. It can be done in Trenitalia’s ticket activation machines by inserting the ticket. Activation process can be quite complicated because you need to insert the ticket very slowly and gently and keep it in the machine for some time (train station staff can show you how to do that just as they did it to me).
When you buy a Pescara-Lanciano ticket there will actually be two tickets: one for a train and one of a bus (you need to activate both of them before starting your journey). You will arrive in Lanciano train station by train and then will need to take a bus to Lanciano Sangritana’s bus station which is located in Lanciano downtown. Train and bus schedules are coordinated so transfer from a train to a bus will not be complicated. Some trains have their last stop before Lanciano (which happened to me) however in that case there will be a bus waiting in that last train station – this bus will take you to Lanciano Sangritana’s bus station (train and bus staff are very helpful and polite; they will explain what you need to do).
When you arrive at Lanciano Sangritana’s bus station, first go inside of the station’s building and buy a ticket back to Pescara because the bus station is closed for a few hours every afternoon (as many places in Italy are) so you will not be able to purchase your ticket during that time. Bus schedules are posted on the bus station’s window. If you need help understanding them, ask station’s staff for help.
To go back to Pescara, you will first take a bus from Lanciano bus station to Lanciano train station. Then from Lanciano train station you will take a train to Pescara. When boarding the bus, show your ticket to the driver and ask if the bus is going to Lanciano train station (there may be a few buses at Lanciano bus station and it can be hard to understand where they go without asking the driver). Right before boarding the bus do not forget to validate (stamp) your tickets by inserting them into a validation machine located in the bus station (the Lanciano validation machines look different from Trenitalia’s ones in Pescara station).
2. Walking to San Francesco Church in Lanciano
The Eucharistic Miracle can be visited at San Francesco church in Lanciano which is located about 10 minutes walk from Lanciano Sangritana’s bus station. It is open daily but closes for a few hours every afternoon. Before traveling to Lanciano, look at Lanciano map online and write down the directions on how to reach San Francesco church from Sangritana’s bus station (located at Via Dalmazia). You can also ask local people on the street for directions to “Basilica / Cattedrale” or “San Francesco Chiesa”. It is probably easiest to first find Lanciano’s Basilica (Cathedral) located in Piazza Plebiscito with a large tower next to it and then, when you stand in the Basilica’s square (with your back towards the main entrance into basilica), walk straight and then turn left into a narrow street called “Corso di Roma” – San Francesco church will be on your left and you will find Eucharistic Miracle behind the main altar.
More information about the Miracle and San Francesco church can be found on Sanctuary’s website here(click English for English version of the website).
Before going to Lanciano I had an impression that Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano will be located in a huge basilica with gold-covered walls and the basilica will be full of pilgrims from all over the world. To my big surprise, San Francesco church was one of the simplest churches I have ever seen and it was…empty. I have spent more than an hour there and most of that time was praying alone. Remote and difficult-to-reach Lanciano location is most likely the reason why it has so few pilgrims. But it is worth the effort – the time spent in front of the greatest Eucharistic Miracle in the world will increase your faith in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist and will bring you closer to Him.
Marius Z. is writing about travel to holy places in Israel, Italy, Poland, France, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal and other countries. He writes about how to make pilgrimages inexpensive or even free while using credit card rewards points, frequent flyer miles, and hotel rewards points. History and spiritual message of each holy place is presented along with the information on where to eat, shop and stay while on a pilgrimage.