The first step in figuring out what a substance is usually taking a look at it to see what it looks like. So what did the soggy wafer that so shocked the priests that they were convinced they were witnessing a miracle?
Fortunately, photographs of this sample are available from multiple stages.
August 26, 1996
The first set are dated August 26, 1996, 8 days after the wafer was placed in water. They were taken by Marcelo Antonini, a professional photographer.
Does that look like a miracle to you? The proper reaction to seeing that is to hold your nose and pull out the dish soap! I did grow up in a cold dry climate, and never left soaking wet bread lying around for a week, so I guess I can understand how some people may be unfamiliar with that blood red colour. But surely everyone recognizes that black, blue and white fuzz as ordinary bread mould, right?
Strangely, the descriptions in Tesoriero’s books fail to mention the blue and white fuzz:
“I examined the photographs. The first showed a small round glass dish with the round host, still undissolved, and with dark spots surrounded by bright red liquid in the top section.”(RTB, page )
“After a week the wafer was found to have undergone an unexpected transformation. It appeared to be exuding a bright red substance which to the naked eye resembled fresh blood.”(Unseen, page 43)
Furthermore, the images of the top of the wafer from September 6th do not appear on his website at all, and the ones in his book have the colour adjusted, so that obvious bright blue patch is a dull grey:
The most charitable interpretation here is that it was an attempt at white balance correction, although I don’t see any evidence that was necessary, and can’t achieve the same results with any standard white balance correction in any software I have access to. Furthermore, a video including an interview with the photographer shows that the film used was Kodak Ektapress PJM, which was designed for daylight use. So, if anything, the original photos should be shifted toward red, not blue.
Overall, it appears that Tesoriero has intentionally left out, if not directly covered up, all of the obvious mould visible on the wafer.
As for the blood red colour, you may not have experienced it personally, but I can assure you that it’s absolutely an expected result of leaving warm wet bread lying around for a week. In fact, the very first unconsecrated communion wafer I took out of the package, placed directly into an empty prescription pill container washed with soap and water, had blood red spots within a week. That’s the image on the left below. The second image was one I rubbed in some dust in a kitchen baseboard heater before placing it in a recycled container.
Control wafer rotted on my balcony Dusty wafer rotted on my balcony
September 6, 1996
The next set of images are dated September 6, 1996, 19 days after the wafer was placed in water. Again, this date matches the date the photographer was recalled. Tesoriero’s website also has an image of the sample in a test tube with the same date.
Full cup from RTB website. Closeup from RTB website Sample in test tube from RTB website
There is one image that appears in RTB, the church video and the RTB website, and again there is a noticeable colour difference, with the image on the website being the darkest red.
Side view from RTB website Side view from church video Side view from RTB book
These are Tesoriero’s descriptions of these images:
By the 6 September the photos showed that the dark sections had grown and even more red liquid was interspersed with liquid of a ruddy brown colour. The original round outline of the host remained discernible.”Reason to Believe
More of the red substance appeared, as did darker gelatinous patches resembling coagulated blood which appeared to be replacing what had been the white wafer.”Unseen, Page 43
I’m not sure what he means by the original round outline of the host remaining discernible. Again, he fails to mention the white fuzz.
3 years later
The last set of images are from when the sample was taken for testing. These are most interesting because they give a better sense of scale. The sample looks quite dark, but the fingers also look quite dark, so that may be more colour correction. The images aren’t clear enough to verify that it’s the same substance, but there’s also no obvious indication that it’s not.
Sample being taken from RTB website Sample in test tube, from RTB website
What about that other image?
If you have been reading about this miracle elsewhere, you may be thinking “those aren’t the images I saw.” And you would be right. If you were looking at almost any article on the internet not directly from Tesoriero or the church, you probably saw this image:
I don’t know where this image is originally from. It is consistently associated with the Buenos Aires miracles on the internet, and I have been unable to find the original source. However, the sources closest to the event show the images at the top of this post, which are clearly a completely different specimen in a glass container. This image also features two full wafers, while the writeups on the 1996 event consistently describe a single wafer, and the 1992 event involved two pieces of a single wafer. Therefore, I believe this image is being misattributed.