I Examine a Cardiologist Examining Jesus
Right now I’m reading A Cardiologist Examines Jesus: The Stunning Science Behind Eucharistic Miracles by Dr. Franco Serafini. I have a habit of starting things and never finishing them so they sit as notes on my computer forever unpublished. So, I’m going to try publishing my notes as I go. Keep in mind that I haven’t done much research on any of this yet. These are just my notes on chapter 1: Lanciano (Eighth Century).
In his summary of the history, I noticed that he doesn’t give events in chronological order. So I put together a quick timeline of the dates he mentions:
(All dates are pulled straight from the book. I have not checked any of this information yet.)
Looking at the dates in this context, a few things jump out (beyond the 800 year gap between the claimed events and the first record of them):
- The first writings about the event appear less than a decade after the Council of Trent defined the dogma of transubstantiation, which is a suspicious coincidence.
- The 1886 examination of the specimens falls right in the middle of the period when the Franciscans had abandoned Lanciano and the convent was turned into a barracks. Where were the specimens kept during this time?
- The specimens were removed from the monstrance in 1574, but they weren’t put into a monstrance until 1713? This probably just means there were multiple monstrances – obviously they must have been stored in something before 1713. But it’s odd that he refers to both just as “the monstrance”.
The other interesting thing is that the bibliography does not include any of the ancient documents mentioned, including the “1631 manuscript – written in good-quality Italian”, from which he quotes extensively. Which makes me think he’s probably quoting from secondary sources. All of the sources in his bibliography are modern and seem unlikely to be impartial.
I’m hoping he gets into more detail on the scientific investigation later, so I’m not going to go into any detail now. The main thing that jumped out at me was the claim that the fourteen holes indicate that nails were used to “counteract the retraction and shrinkage of rigor mortis”, implying that the muscle was still alive at the time. This seems like a bizarre conclusion. First of all, it requires that in the hours after the miracle, someone noticed it was shrinking and reacted by grabbing a hammer and nails to stop it, which seems both unlikely and irreverent – I don’t think the Church would let someone drive nails through a normal consecrated host let alone one that seemed to be undergoing a miracle! Secondly, shrinkage would happen due to desecration, I don’t see how he came to the conclusion of rigor mortis.
Anyway, those are my first thoughts. I’ll hopefully come back to this soon.