Would Bacteria Disintegrate or Crumble?
I’ve read many quotes from experts saying that the instances where the communion wafer has been dried out, such as Buenos Aires 1994 or the ones from Poland, could not be bacteria or fungi because if it was it would disintegrate or crumble or lose its colour when it dried out. However, none of these quotes ever come with any kind of reference or reason why that would be. Certainly in my experience the Serratia in my bathroom is not that easy to get rid of. When it dries out the bacteria presumably dies, but the pigment produced by the bacteria stays around until you scrub it off. I even have a once-white bath pillow that remains stubbornly pink no matter what I do to it.
But would it be different on a communion wafer? I decided to try it to be sure.
Here is a wafer I grew back in December. I just took an unconsecrated wafer and placed it in a jar of tap water on my bathroom sink. (As mentioned above, I have a bit of a Serratia problem in that bathroom). It grew a few nice red patches, presumably Serratia but I can’t come up with a way to test that. This picture is from December 15th.
I intended to dry it on a linen cloth, because that’s what was done with most of the claimed miracles. However, I wasn’t sure how to scoop it out of the jar without damaging it. I thought I still had a few days to think about this problem, but the bottom of the jar was higher in the middle than at the edges. So by the time I tried to transfer it on December 20th, the middle had already dried to the bottom of the jar.
So I didn’t get it on to the linen. However, if anything I think if anything it would be more likely to crumble on the glass.
I haven’t had another nice red wafer grow yet this year. It seems to be pretty random whether they turn red, even in my bathroom. I’ve also been out of town a lot, so I can’t leave them out all the time. However, I did find this positively disgusting blood red biofilm growing in my water bottle on April 5th.
So I wiped that on a piece of an old cotton T-shirt.
Here they are on June 8th, just under 6 months since the wafer in the jar dried, and 2 months since the goo on the T-shirt dried.
Both are still very red. Neither has crumbled or disintegrated. Some cracks formed in the wafer as it dried to the bottom of the jar, presumably because it contracted as it dried. I’ve turned the jar fully upside down and tapped on it every few weeks, it seems very solid. The last time, at about 6 months after it dried, a small piece did fall off, although not from the red part (you can see the missing chunk in the picture). However, that piece is still quite solid. I was able to pick it up with tweezers, squeeze it and place it on a microscope slide.
I did look at it with the microscope but I didn’t bother to get the camera mount for the microscope out because it wasn’t very interesting. It wasn’t from the red part of the wafer. It was transparent enough for the light to transmit through, so it looked kind of like amber. Without staining you can’t see any cells, and I’m not quite sure how to stain a bit of dried wafer. It’s probably also too thick. So I’m still thinking about what to do with it.
At this point I can confidently say that red pigments produced by microorganisms on a communion wafer will not disintegrate, fade, or otherwise disappear within days, weeks or even months. I see no reason to think anything is going to change with these samples for years.