A ciborium containing 40 perfectly preserved hosts was found inside a tabernacle taken from the ruins of a church destroyed in the devastating earthquake that struck central Italy in 2016, and is being called a sign of hope by the local bishop.
The National Catholic Register is reporting on the incident which occurred when hosts recovered from the ruins of the parish church of Arquata del Tronto were found to have no bacteria or mold as usually happens to hosts after a few weeks.
The hosts were discovered by Don Angelo Ciancotti, a priest in nearby Ascoli who has been working with residents to recover all of the artificats that were salvaged after the 6.6 quake that struck the area in October of 2016. He was able to track down objects recovered from Santa Maria Assunta church in nearby Arquata which were stored in a local warehouse. He retrieved the items, cleaned them up, and put them in the sacristy of the cathedral in Ascoli.
When he came across the tabernacle, he found it to be locked. However, he remembered having another key in his office and decided to give it a try. It opened on the first attempt, and what he found inside took everyone by surprise.
“The ciborium was horizontal, but it hadn’t opened, and inside it the hosts were perfectly intact,” he told the Italian newspaper, Il Resto del Carlino.
Even though hosts usually begin to deteriorate in just a few weeks, these hosts, which had been locked away for 16 months, appeared to be as fresh as the day they were made.
Don Ciancotti immediately contacted the nuns in the convent of Sant’Onofrio where the hosts were made. “I immediately asked them if they used preservatives and they told me: ‘No, just flour and water.’”
The local bishop, Mons. Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, was cautious, saying “faith requires prudence,” but added that such a discovery needs “no words.”
“It is a sign of hope for everyone,” he added. “Confronted with a fact like this, one has to surely remain silent. It simply touches and strengthens faith in Jesus who remains alive to console the earthquake-stricken population of Arquata.”
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