Ferrara, Italy - 1171
Feast Day - Corpus Christi
Ferrara, Italy, which first appeared in documents around 753 AD, is located about 30 miles north-northeast of Bologna on the main branch of the Po River. During the Italian Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries, Ferrara attracted some of the greatest painters, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, and Bellini to name a few. Architect and urbanist Biagio Rossetti modernized the design of the city in 1492, the walls built around the city at that time still exist today. For all of Ferrara's cultural achievements and beauty, the city was qualified by UNESCO in 1995 as a World Heritage Site.
Yet the occurrence that should bring Ferrara the most attention happened on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1171 during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist by Fr. Pietro da Verona at the Church of Santa Maria in Vado.
During the consecration, as Fr. Pietro broke the Host, Blood gushed out and stained the ceiling above the altar. "The stories tell of the "holy fear of the celebrant and of the immense wonder of the people who crowded the tiny church." There were many eyewitnesses who told of seeing the Host take on a bloody color and of having seen the figure of a Baby in the Host. Bishop Amato of Ferrara and Archbishop Gerard of Ravenna were immediately informed of the event. They witnessed with their own eyes the miracle, namely "the Blood which we saw redden the ceiling.""(1)
Church of Santa Maria in Vado
In 1570, Santa Maria in Vado would be hit with its first devastating earthquake. Affecting mostly the upper portion of the structure the church remained open and a popular pilgrimage sight as people came from long distances to view the Eucharistic Miracle of the Blood stained ceiling.
In 1594 architect Alessandro Balbi created a shrine around the Blood stained ceiling and in the early 1700's sculptor Andrea Ferreri added statues to the front entry portal. The most significant of them being the "Virgin and Child."
In May of 2012 Ferrara was hit with two earthquakes magnitude 6.1 on May 20 and 5.8 on May 29. This time the damage forced the church to close. But not for long.
The "Virgin and Child" statue that sat on the white marble gable over the front entry of the church fell to the ground. The only piece that remained intact was the face of the Virgin.
(Interesting Street View by Google shows this view one month after the earthquake and this view in August of 2015.)
On May 21, 2012 the day after the first jolting earthquake, the parish of Santa Maria in Vado was arriving to celebrate Mass and First Holy Communion for 45 children. The church (as well as all others in the diocese) was closed. Mass was moved to the soccer field where Jesus fed the 45 children for the first time with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
After Mass the children brought flowers to the head of the Virgin which had crashed to the ground only a few hours earlier.
This is not a wealthy parish but by October 13, 2013 part of the church was reopened. Today this beautiful church is fully open with Mass said daily - Thank's be to God!! Since 2003 this parish has been run by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood from Tanzania. We have them to thank for their persistence in making sure that this pilgrimage sight was available for all.
Inside the Church of Santa Maria in Vado, the layout is as of a basilica with three aisles divided by columns, an apse and a transept. The ceiling is decorated with five painting frescoes by Carlo Bononi. One of the five is show earlier depicting the Miracle of the Blood.
Off the right arm of the transept is the Chapel of the Miracle with the altar shrine created in 1594 by architect Alessandro Balbi,
Take the ladder/stairs to the vault in the ceiling to view the Blood stains which after over 800 years are still visible. You will be one of numerous pilgrims who have made this journey - including Pope Alexander III (1177), Pope Urban III, Pope Pius IX (1857) and Saint Pope John Paul II (1990).
Why does Our Lord give us these visual Eucharistic Miracles? He doesn't have to, but He knows that we need them sometimes to believe. At times we are like Saint Thomas and need to see to believe. "Then Jesus told him, because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet they believed." John 20:29
For devotional items related to the Catholic Church, please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures
Index of Eucharistic Miracles
(1) The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, page 116
Aerial Picture of the Church of Santa Maria in Vado - Geosearch Italy
Picture of walls surrounding Ferrara from Wikipedia
Photo of Bononi's fresco of The Miracle of the Blood painted on the ceiling of the Church of Santa Maria in Vado from Flickr
Close of of Bononi's fresco The Miracle of the Blood from The Eucharistic Miracles of the World page 117
Picture of the destruction of the Andrea Ferreri statue "Virgin and Child" in the 2012 earthquake - Reassembled the fragments of the 'Virgin of the earthquake'
Picture of the head of the "Virgin and Child" - A First Communion in Special Soccer Field
Four photos of the interior of the Church of Santa Maria in Vado by VirtualTourist