The Lord gave us one of these special gifts in the year 1330, in the little town of Walldurn, between Frankfurt and Wurzburg.
But it almost backfired on Him.
An elderly priest, Heinrich Otto, was celebrating Mass at the Church of St. George in Walldurn.
After he raised the host and chalice for the Consecration, he bumped into the Chalice, spilling the contents, the Precious Blood of Jesus, onto the Corporal.
He was flustered, and quite agitated by his clumsiness. His agitation turned to shock when he saw what appeared on the Corporal.
The wine had turned into actual Blood, forming a design of the Crucified Christ, surrounded by eleven heads of Jesus crowned with Thorns.
Fr. Otto was unnerved. His entire body shook.
Instinctively, he wanted to hide his blunder, the spilling of the Blood of Jesus on the Corporal. He couldn’t think of the accident as a blessing from above to be shared.
The best thing he could have done would have been to hold up the Miraculous Corporal to the Congregation, praising the Lord for having given this gift to the people of the Church of St. George, through the unworthy means of Fr. Otto.
He should have, but he didn’t. He pushed the Corporal to the side, and continued with the Mass. We don’t really know what emotions the priest was experiencing, other than shame and guilt for having caused the accident.
When the Mass was finished, and the congregation had left the church, Fr. Otto once again opened the Corporal, to see if his eyes had been playing tricks on him when the accident occurred.
The scene portrayed by the Lord in this Miraculous painting was even clearer than it had been the first time.
Jesus was on the Cross, in the Crucified Form. Surrounding Him were eleven heads of the Crucified Christ, all crowned with Thorns.
The priest stared at the Heavenly Image for what seemed to be eternity. He looked around the Church.
The Walldurn Miracle is concealed.
He was quite alone. He took the Corporal and hid it in a table under the Altar. He was very thorough in his concealment, to be sure that no one would ever find it.
We have to stop for a minute and try to visualize how Jesus, up in Heaven, may have reacted to this ridiculous behavior on the part of one of His own.
We can just picture Him up there, yelling “You dummy! Get that Corporal out of there. Why do you think I created this Eucharistic Miracle, for you to hide it? Why did I choose to give you the Miracle, so you could prevent everybody from seeing it?”
We know that there had to be an enormous frustration in Heaven for two reasons.
Number One is that this was a very unique message from Our Lord. The Image Jesus left on the Corporal had to be very significant.
Why 11 heads of Jesus Crowned with Thorns surrounding the Crucified Christ? Was the message for the priest alone, or the local Church of Walldurn, or the Church of Europe, or the entire Church of that period?
In most of the Eucharistic Miracles we’ve researched, the meaning of the sign from Our Lord is clear, and easily understandable.
This is the only Eucharistic Miracle where such a prophetic, or symbolic message from God is given to us. What did it mean? Two explanations come to mind immediately.
ELEVEN of the Apostles deserted Jesus at the Crucifixion. Only John the Beloved grieved at the foot of the Cross.
ELEVEN of the twelve Apostles died the death of martyrs for Jesus. Only John the Beloved died of old age. The Spirit moved us to research the writings of St. John, his Gospel, his Letters, and the Book of Revelation.
We read verse 11 in each chapter of his writings. The Lord said many things of importance to us through these readings. However, the teaching St. John left us in verse 11 of 3 John is very fitting for the religious climate of 14th Century Germany:
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Whoever does what is good belongs to God; whoever does what is evil has never seen God
We know that Jesus was trying to impress this teaching on the people of the time. It was a very difficult period for the Church.
We don’t know for sure that this was the message of the 11 heads of Jesus crowned with thorns. There was an urgency for the message to get to the people of God. The priest, by hiding the Corporal, made it impossible for anyone to know, not only THAT the Lord had something to tell us, but WHAT He was trying to relate to us.
Number Two is the mental anguish the priest suffered from the time of the Miraculous Occurrence, until he finally shared the secret. Shortly after the Incident, he became sick. He could not get the Image of the Corporal out of his mind. It haunted him day and night. He knew he should not have hidden the Miracle.
The longer he agonized over it, however, the worse he thought his situation would be if he finally confessed. He came to realize that the Miracle was to be shared by the entire Church. But still he hesitated.
The priest knew that he couldn’t die without releasing himself from this sin of ommission which had haunted him from the day it happened. He called in a fellow priest, and confessed the entire incident to him. He begged the priest to wait until he had died, and then remove the Corporal from its hiding place. It had to be shared by all the people. In that way, they could be strengthened in their faith in the Physical Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Fr. Otto felt that by doing this, he would be exonerated from his sin. His fellow priest gave him absolution. Fr. Otto died peacefully immediately after having said his penance.
The priest to whom Fr. Otto had confessed, and some of his fellow priests, rushed into the Church to see for themselves this miracle of which Fr. Otto had spoken.
The Walldurn Miracle is rediscovered.
They went to the hiding place, the table under the altar, and found the Bloodstained Corporal.
It was as Fr. Otto had told them. The blood was still there, and the design of the Crucified Christ surrounded by 11 heads, crowned with Thorns. The priests knelt in reverence to this magnificent Miracle the Lord had gifted them with.
In a solemn ceremony, the Corporal was put on display for the faithful to venerate. It became a place of Pilgrimage for Germans and Europeans alike. Pilgrims by the thousands came to Walldurn to venerate the Sacred Corporal. Jesus, for His part, rewarded the Pilgrims with many miracles, healings and conversions.
There was a general return to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
In 1445, the Eucharistic Miracle of Walldurn was sent to Rome to be investigated by the Vatican authorities. Pope Eugene IV, who had authenticated another Eucharistic Miracle, that of Ferrara, Italy, three years earlier, was very interested in inspecting this Miracle.
The priests of Walldurn brought all the documents that had been written about the Corporal from the time the priests first removed it from the table under the Altar. The priest who had heard the confession of Fr. Otto had written all that Fr. Otto had told him about the Miracle.
Pope Eugene IV confirmed and authenticated the Eucharistic Walldurn Miracle, and bestowed a Plenary Indulgence on anyone who venerated the Corporal during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
The Sacred Cloth was returned to Walldurn in triumph.
A beautiful church was built in honor of the Eucharistic Miracle. The Corporal is venerated on the main altar of the church. Over the centuries, a number of hardened sinners has been known to enter the Church, and immediately repent their sins, searching out confessors in tears.
Devotion to this Eucharistic Miracle has continued over the years, through the Protestant Reformation and many wars, including two World Wars.
In June 1985, the 650th Anniversary of the Miraculous Occurrence, festivities were held for the entire month.
The Corporal is not as bright and colorful today as it was 650 years ago. It has become dull, and yet the image of Our Lord Crucified is still visible.
We have assembled some reference items you might be interested in - see below.
DVD about the Walldurn Miracle
Taped at Walldurn, Germany, site of the Walldurn Miracle of the Eucharist. See the Blood-stained Corporal, which formed the image of 11 thorn-crowned heads, after the Chalice was spilled onto the Corporal. Witness the ultraviolet photograph that reveals the Image of Jesus Crucified.