The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City has revealed the results of an investigation into claims that a communion wafer “bled” for three days after it was placed in a glass of water, ruling that the stunning "change of appearance" was actually due to "red bread mold."
"A thorough investigation has concluded that the host did not bleed, but the change of appearance in the host was due to red bread mold," read a statement from the Rev. Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, chair of the investigative committee that's been looking into the matter. "The consecrated host has been disposed of in a reverent manner, as is required."
The investigation was undertaken by the diocese after some individuals at Saint Fracis Xavier Church in Kearns, Utah, noticed a red substance on the wafer during the weekend of Nov. 14-15; the wafer had been used during Mass the previous week.
National and local attention came after the host was publicly displayed at the church, but church officials were cautious, deciding to look further into the matter by forming an ad hoc committee that included "individuals with expertise in Catholic theology, canon law, molecular biology and ministry."
The subsequant investigation revealed that the communion host had been left in a dish of water from Nov. 8-14, with the committee deciding to scientifically test the wafer to see if there was a more rational explanation than the miraculous "bleeding" that some believed was unfolding.
"Upon completion of the prescribed tests, the scientist, with the assistance of a blind observer, concluded that the observed change in the host could be satisfactorily and conclusively explained by natural causes, namely the growth of what is commonly known as 'red bread mold,' or red bacteria, most likely Neurospora cressa or Serratia marcescens," she statement read.
The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City went on to explain that, though this is not a supernatural phenomenon, miracles have taken place throughout church history.
But the church also had a warning about the harms that can come from jumping to conclusions when it comes to situations such as the one involving the wafer, saying that most situations that seem extraordinary typically have a natural cause.
"False claims of miracles ... cause harm to the faithful and damage the church’s credibility," the statement read. "While not dismissing the possibility of miracles, understanding the potential harm of hastily jumping to conclusions should cause all the faithful, lay and clergy alike, to act with great prudence."
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