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Exhibition Focuses on Eucharistic Miracles

Interview With a Promoter, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli

ROME, OCT. 18, 2005 (Zenit) - Coinciding with the close of the Year of the Eucharist, a photographic exhibition "Eucharistic Miracles" opened at the St. Charles Borromeo International Ecclesiastical College.

Organized with the St. Clement I Pope and Martyr Institute, the exhibition, which opened Saturday and runs through Nov. 13, has been directed by Antonia Salzano Acutis.

The display includes in-depth historical descriptions of about 80 of the most important Eucharistic miracles. A short film enables visitors to enter virtually in the places where the miracles took place.

A great promoter of the exhibition is Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli of the St. Ambrose and St. Charles Basilica, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and member of the editorial commission of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Monsignor Martinelli granted us this interview on the Eucharist.

Q: Why hold an exhibition on Eucharistic miracles?

Monsignor Martinelli: There are two convergent reasons: above all, the fact that this month of October the Year of the Eucharist closes, convoked by John Paul II. It seems to me a good initiative to offer those who "pass" by the Corso of Rome, the possibility to visit and enjoy an exhibition on Eucharistic miracles that, in the course of several centuries, have taken place in different countries.

Moreover, we have been able to count on the kind willingness of Antonia Salzano Acutis, who offered the photographic panels exhibited in the underground halls of the St. Charles Center and in the crypt of the St. Charles Basilica in the Corso.

Q: What is a Eucharistic miracle and how can it be explained?

Monsignor Martinelli: It is an extraordinary event, referring to the mystery of the Eucharist. Precisely because it has been recognized as an extraordinary event, it doesn't have an explanation in scientific facts or reasoning. It goes beyond human reason and questions man, urging him to "go beyond" the sentient, the visible, the human.

Q: A book by the authors of the exhibition has just been published, entitled "I Miracoli Eucaristici e le Radici Christiane dell'Europa" [Eucharistic Miracles and the Christian Roots of Europe]. What do you think of it?

Monsignor Martinelli: It is an interesting and laudable initiative, the main objective of which is to help the reader discover the nature of mystery, the beauty and wealth of the Eucharist that, as the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, approved and published last June by Benedict XVI, "is source and summit of the whole of Christian life. In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God toward us and our worship of him reach their summit. It contains all the spiritual good of the Church: Christ himself, our Pasch. The communion of the divine life and the unity of the People of God are expressed and produced by the Eucharist, through the Eucharistic celebration, we are already united to the liturgy of heaven and anticipate eternal life."

Q: For decades, the secularized culture has described miracles in general, and Eucharistic miracles in particular, as simple stories for the naive. How is one to respond to this objection?

Monsignor Martinelli: We must remember above all that our faith in the Eucharist is not based on Eucharistic miracles, but on Christ the Lord, who during his preaching pre-announced the Eucharist and later instituted it, when celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles, on Holy Thursday, before his passion and death on Good Friday.

Since then, the Church, faithful to the Lord's mandate, "Do this in remembrance of me," has always celebrated the Eucharist with faith and devotion, above all on Sunday, the day of the resurrection of Jesus, and she will continue to do so "until he comes." Eucharistic miracles can help to know and live this faith, which has its center in Christ Jesus.

Q: From the point of view of reinforcement and dissemination of the faith, to what degree are Eucharistic miracles and the daily miracle of the Eucharist important?

Monsignor Martinelli: It is true that the most important and riveting miracle is the one that occurs every time the Eucharist is celebrated, in which Jesus Christ makes himself present, as the Compendium states, in a unique and incomparable way. He is present, in fact, truly, really, substantially: with his Body and Blood, with his soul and divinity. He is present in it, therefore, in a sacramental way, that is, under the species of bread and wine, the whole Christ: God and man.

And in making his sacrifice on the cross present and actual, he makes himself our food and drink, with his Body and Blood, uniting us to himself and among ourselves, becoming our viaticum on our earthly pilgrimage toward our eternal homeland.

This is the mysterious miracle par excellence, which we are invited to celebrate above all every Sunday, in the ecclesial community, breaking the one bread, which -- as St. Ignatius of Antioch affirmed -- is "medicine of immortality, antidote not to die but to live in Jesus Christ forever."


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