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The Holy Miracle of Santarem

Hugh O'Reilly
Around the year 1225 there was a woman living in Santarem, (1) who was very unhappy in her marriage. She was convinced that her husband no longer loved her and was unfaithful. After many prayers and no relief from her problems, she turned to a sorceress for help.

The sorceress promised the wife that her husband would return to his loving ways, if the wife would bring her a Consecrated Host.

santarem miracle

Above, a woman receives Communion; below, the procession returning the miraculous Host to the Church

santarem miracle
The woman was aware of the grave offense to God and was frightened at the prospect of committing a horrible sacrilege. Unfortunately, her desire to have her husband's love was so strong that she gave in to temptation.

She went to Mass at the Church of St. Stephen and received Communion, but she did not consume the Host. Instead, she left the Church immediately and took the Host out of her mouth, placing It into her veil to hide it.

As she headed for the sorceress' cave, blood began to issue from the Host. The amount of blood was so profuse that it soon dripped from the cloth and attracted the attention of bystanders who asked if she needed assistance. Becoming very frightened by the unexpected turn of events, she hurried home instead of to the sorcerer's cave, and placed the veil with the Host in a wooden trunk in the bedroom.

That night, both she and her husband were awakened by a mysterious light that was coming from the wooden chest. The supernatural light illuminated the whole room. The woman confessed her sin to her husband and they both spent the remainder of the night on their knees in adoration.

The following morning, the parish priest was informed and people rushed to the house to admire the miracle. The priest brought the Host back to the St. Stephan's Church in a solemn procession; placed It in a small ball of wax to stop the bleeding, and deposited It in the Tabernacle. A Church investigation was promptly set into motion.

When the priest opened the Tabernacle door and found the wax ball had broken into small pieces. In its place was a beautiful crystal ampoule with the Blood of the Host inside.

miraculous host santarem

The relic of the miraculous Host

The ampoule is approximately 1/2" thick and 2" in diameter, crystalline clear and with a small protrusion on the side that contains the largest amount of the Blood. It is an irregularly shaped crystal, through which the real Flesh can be seen. One can observe delicate veins running from top to bottom of the Flesh and a quantity of the precious Blood, which is collected at one end.

It was later placed in a gold and silver pear-shaped monstrance with a sunburst of 33 rays. There it remains until today. The reliquary that houses the miraculous Host sets above the Tabernacle, and the pilgrim can view the miracle by climbing a set of stairs from behind the main altar.

After a thorough investigation was conducted and approved by the Church authorities, the Church of St. Stephen was renamed "The Church of the Holy Miracle." The little house where the miracle occurred in Santarem was converted into a Chapel in 1684.

From the time of the miracle until now, on the Second Sunday of April every year the incident is re-enacted by local actors. The ampoule containing the miraculous Host and Blood is processed from the House-Chapel to the Church. Miraculously, after 750 years, the Precious Blood remains in liquid form, defying the natural laws of science.

Kings, Queens and Saints have venerated the Relic of the Miraculous-bleeding Host over the centuries. No fewer than six Popes granted indulgences for this devotion, and St. Francis Xavier went on pilgrimage, before becoming setting off for missionary work in India.


From left to right, entering the city; the Church of the Miracle, the miracle displayed above the main altar

  1. Santarem is located 51 miles north of Lisbon and 37 miles south of Fatima.

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted April 18, 2015

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