Sunday, April 24, 2016

Buenos Aires Eucharistic Miracle Reports Confounding [UDPATED]

DNA Match Between Lanciano and Buenos Aires (Claimed) Miracles?

The Bear will not claim that this is the best single article on the 1996 Buenos Aires claimed Eucharistic miracle, but it is better than any others he has found in Catholic media. He will happily revise or retrace as necessary upon being provided evidence of where he is wrong.

The Bear is not a skeptic. However, if Catholics want to do science, then let's do science; if Catholics want to do journalism, then let's do journalism. Credulous acceptance of hoaxes and mistakes as genuine miracles do not do the Catholic Church any good. It only distracts the faithful and gives ammunition to their enemies.

Finally, no one's faith should be shaken by critiques of the Catholic media such as these. (Except maybe faith in the Catholic media.) The Catholic faith is very reasonable, but we do not believe because we deem it reasonable. Still less should our faith rest on the latest visionary or alleged miracle.

The Buenos Aires (Claimed) Eucharistic Miracle

An April 24, 2016 story by Ryan Fitzgerald of Church Militant TV reports that scientific examination of Eucharistic miracles -- where the consecrated Host bleeds or actually turns into human heart tissue -- have confirmed that samples from the famous Lanciano miracle in the 8th century, and the 1996 Buenos Aires claimed miracle are DNA matches, and further come from the same "Middle Eastern" man.

If true, this would scientifically prove that a single person existed as a human being whose blood, tissue and DNA are also showing up in Hosts after consecration as God by Catholic priests all over the world. Game, set and match. The Catholic faith has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

It would, without question, be the biggest news story in history, attacked only by deranged Host Truthers.

Let the Bear be very clear that he is not personally commenting on the veracity of any of these miracles, and does not want to get into that discussion now. It is about how we investigate and report them.

Science and Faith -- Crucifixion Experiments to DNA

There have always been those who have wanted proof to assist their faith. St. Thomas actually examined Our Lord's Wounds with his own fingers. Around the turn of the last century, some new researchers turned their attention to the crucifixion, using what they had at their disposal. Cadavers.

Perhaps the first crucifixion experiment was made in 1801. Two English artists wanted to paint the crucifixion in the most realistic way possible. So they crucified the body of a hanged murderer to get the angles right, and made casts -- one with skin, the other without. (Only the latter survives.)

Donnadieu's experiment
More recent crucifixion experiments include Marie Louis Adolphe Donnadieu's nailing a cadaver to a board in 1900. He concluded that nails through the hand would support a body on a cross.

Around 1930, perhaps the most famous experimenter, Dr. Pierre Barbet, author of A Doctor at Calvary, thought that Donnadieu's cadaver was a pitifully emaciated specimen, and did his own experiments. He concluded an adult of normal weight could only be supported by nails through the wrist, and that the cause of death of a crucified person was asphyxiation. This is usually the theory one hears about today. However, it is not without its critics among other crucifixion researchers.

One of them happens to be by far the most important expert connected to claims of the Buenos Aires miracle, Dr. Frederick Zugibe, who died in 2013. He was a pathologist, researcher, Shroud expert, author, and medical examiner of Rockland County, New York. He had extensive experience investigating homicides and other deaths. He appeared on television to be interviewed in connection with the deaths of Princess Diana, Jon Bennet Ramsey, and others. There is no question about his qualifications.

Dr. Zugibe was unimpressed with Dr. Barbet's theories and did crucifixion experiments of his own. He built a cross in his garage and crucified hundreds of volunteers from local churches (using straps, not nails) and monitored their physiology. He determined that crucified people died of shock, not of asphyxiation.

Dr. Zugibe at work.

Today, we have scientific tools that would have been unimaginable in the early days of research into miracles, relics and history. The Shroud of Turin, for example, has been subjected to a whole battery of testing, including microscope, pollen, radiocarbon, and DNA. The results remain controversial. Today everyone who has seen CSI has heard about DNA testing. Indeed, in a criminal trial, DNA results are all but determinative of outcome.

It should be noted that some appear to be confused between blood typing and DNA testing. The former is a much older test that gives only blood type, e.g. A, AB, etc.

DNA testing is a later and far more complex test that looks at standard "loci" (locations) along the DNA molecule. Nuclear DNA may be extracted from any cell that has nucleus. In criminal cases, it is used to make comparisons between a "standard" (e.g. cheek swab from a suspect) and an "unknown" (e.g. blood, semen, even skin cells -- in short anything with a cell nucleus from which to extract DNA --  found at a crime scene). In this way a scientist can express the probability that the "unknown" and the "standard" came from the same person at a ridiculously high probability, usually a number far greater than the entire population of the planet.

In non-forensic settings it might be used without a standard, e.g. to check for genetic defects.

What if we were able to do DNA testing on a sample of Jesus' tissue? Eucharistic miracles, where a consecrated Host shows signs of becoming flesh and blood might theoretically provide that opportunity.

Calling Dr. Gómez

In 1996, in Buenos Aires, a consecrated host was reportedly found in a candle holder. It was described as "dirty." As is common with such situations, the Host was placed in water to dissolve. Then something strange happened. The Host reportedly turned into a piece of bloody flesh, and eventually grew larger than the original Host.

The Church Militant story says that after the Buenos Aires Host had not decomposed after three years, Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Bergoglio arranged for laboratory testing by a Bolivian with a degree in clinical psychology who is some sort of professional miracle-hunter, Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gómez.

Dr. Gómez calls or called himself a "neuropsychophysiologist," which is not a well-established field of medicine, but is apparently meant to describe a synthesis of neurology and psychology. According to information available on the web, he holds a Ph.D in clinical psychology, and claims to have studied various medicine-related fields in England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United States. He has or had some relation to the "International Group for Peace," described by Catholic Journal U.S. as "a nonprofit group [that] is a collection of self-financed research professionals who investigate mystical phenomena. They report their results, as scientific opinion, directly to the Vatican for consideration."

Forensic Psychologists Don't Do DNA Testing

After initial tests were deemed to warrant further testing, the sample was sent to the San Francisco Forensic Institute for blind tests (i.e. the provenance of the samples was not disclosed to the testers). The Institute, the story says, confirmed that the sample was human tissue, blood type AB, with human DNA.

Much of the information for the CMTV story seems to come from a linked December 11, 2015 story in the National Catholic Register by Patti Armstrong. That story even contains a link to the San Francisco Forensic Institute.

However, since 2015, no one at the National Catholic Register (or CMTV, for that matter) has noticed that while their link does indeed go to the San Francisco Forensic Institute, the institute is for forensic psychology.

Forensic psychologists are great when you're trying to convince a judge your client is incompetent to stand trial, or hundreds of other creative mental health issues clever defense counsel may raise. DNA? Not so much. So where did they send the sample? Either to some very bemused psychologists, or someplace else, perhaps with a similar-sounding name. Or did they send it to anyone? We don't know, and nobody bothered to find out.

So, from the journalistic side, the Bear would respectfully suggest that our reporters and editors are not getting off to a very credible start. One can only assume that the writers did not actually look at the website they were provided, or do not know the difference between CSI-type forensics and forensic psychology when attempting to write a story about DNA and such.

Dr. Gomez's Dramatic Account

The samples were then blind-provided to a well-qualified pathologist and well-known expert on the crucifixion and the Shroud of Turin, Dr. Frederick Zugibe. (However, it appears that Dr. Gómez and/or two other authors were present, so Dr. Zugibe, given his background, would have to be very uncurious indeed not to suspect exactly what he was testing.) According to Dr. Gómez, Dr. Zugibe identified the tissue as cardiac tissue from a man who had been tortured. The following is from the YouTube talk (the Bear is at the mercy of the subtitles) from Dr. Gómez. Dr. Zugibe asked him:

But there is something you need to explain. How is it possible that while I was studying this sample, the sample was moving. It was beating. So you explain to me, how did you take out the the heart of a dead man, and transport it alive to my New York lab? 

Dr. Frederick Zugibe (d. 2013)

After explaining to Dr. Zugibe that it was a consecrated Host (other accounts say it was journalist Mike Wilesee that did that) Dr, Gómez goes on to say Dr. Zugibe "almost pulled out his hairs." Dr. Gomez went back to Buenos Aires and (apparently for the first time) examined the original lab notes (apparently from some other, earlier, unidentified researcher) only to find that they, too, noted that the sample was moving and beating. Apparently, no one had thought to mention that to Dr. Gómez, nor had he bothered to review them earlier, if indeed, they exist at all.

Dr, Gómez then researched the 8th century Lanciano, Italy sample, which had been examined in 1971  and 1981 by a Dr. Odoardo Linoli, whose findings were published in Life magazine. It, too, was identified as heart tissue. From this, Dr, Gómez proclaims somehow that the samples "belong to the same person!" (At best, he might claim that the samples were both cardiac tissue, and maybe the same blood type, not insignificant, of course.)

He then jokes with the audience that he won't tell them the rest of the story because "then you won't buy my book." Dr. Gómez has authored a number of books in connection with the International Group for Peace, but the Bear never spent any time south of the border and so is pretty much judging books by their covers.

Dr. Gómez does not argue the ultimate issue, on grounds of invading individual faith, but leaves it up to the reader. Here is a video of Dr. Gómez explaining the whole thing.

In the end, it seems that research regarding the Buenos Aires eucharistic miracle always manages to loop back to Dr. Gómez and this YouTube video. The whole investigation would seem to rest entirely on his credibility.

Other Investigators, Other Books

Austrialian lawyer and author Ron Tesariero, the author of several books on miracles, says he and Australian journalist Mike Wilesee were present when Dr. Zugibe did the tests. He describes this and other miracles in his book Reason to Believe. In their version, they are present with Dr. Zugibe and deliver the news to him that it was a consecrated Host, prompting their own version of his reaction, which rings truer than Dr. Gómez's story. Although he has not read the book, the Bear has not found references of "beating" attributed to the two Aussies. It might be in the book, though, so he cannot rule it out. There are also claims that they filmed the events in Dr. Zugibe's lab, but, unfortunately, the Bear hasn't found evidence of that, either. He would certainly like to see it. Perhaps it's a DVD for sale somewhere.

Back to DNA

The Church Militant TV article says tests "indicated that the samples from both Buenos Aires and Lanciano must have come from the same man. They both had the exact same DNA."

This extraordinary claim is uncritically repeated all over the internet. It has become part of the Buenos Aires Eucharistic miracle lore.

The first problem is that, apparently, the last examinations of the Lanciano sample were conducted in 1971 and 1981. DNA testing has only been around since 1985, and was first used to secure a U.S. conviction in 1987. PCR testing that allows testing of minute and/or degraded samples (such as presumably would be authorized in these cases) didn't become widespread until later.

DNA testing is destructive of the sample. Would the Church even approve of such testing of the Blessed Body and Blood of Our Lord?

In any case, we have not been provided with even the names of the laboratories that supposedly did the DNA testing of either sample. If DNA testing was actually done, there are reams of information. To give you an idea of the enormous amount of data that is behind DNA results, let's look at the Illinois DNA discovery rule that governs what a party with DNA evidence must turn over to the other side in a felony case.

If DNA Testing Were Done, This is What Should Be Available

Rule 417. DNA Evidence

(i) Copies of the case file including all reports, memoranda, notes, phone logs, contamination records, and data relating to the testing performed in the case.

(ii) Copies of any autoradiographs, lumigraphs, DQ Alpha Polymarker strips, PCR gel photographs and electropherogams, tabular data, electronic files and other data needed for full evaluation of DNA profiles produced and an opportunity to examine the originals, if requested.

(iii) Copies of any records reflecting compliance with quality control guidelines or standards employed during the testing process utilized in the case.

(iv) Copies of DNA laboratory procedure manuals, DNA testing protocols, DNA quality assurance guidelines or standards, and DNA validation studies.

(v) Proficiency testing results, proof of continuing professional education, current curriculum vitae and job description for examiners, or analysts and technicians involved in the testing and analysis of DNA evidence in the case.

(vi) Reports explaining any discrepancies in the testing, observed defects or laboratory errors in the particular case, as well as the reasons for those and the effects thereof.

(vii) Copies of all chain of custody documents for each item of evidence subjected to DNA testing.

(viii) A statement by the testing laboratory setting forth the method used to calculate the statistical probabilities in the case.

(ix) Copies of the allele frequencies or database for each locus examined.

(x) A list of all commercial or in-house software programs used in the DNA testing, including the name of the software program, manufacturer and version used in the case.

(xi) Copies of all DNA laboratory audits relating to the laboratory performing the particular tests.

There's a lot more to this than saying, "Some lab did some DNA tests and got a match."

If DNA Testing Were Done, Results of Both Tests Could Be Compared

Any competent DNA expert could, using this material, compare the Lanciano DNA results and the Buenos Aires DNA results and render an opinion. In fact, the Bear will be happy to start a fund drive for a comparison of the results of both DNA tests by a reputable DNA laboratory. (Then he could be on the speaking circuit hawking his own book, rather than boring everyone with this silly ephemeris.)

The Bear can't help but imagine the professional bloodbath that would ensue if he tried to enter into evidence a "DNA match" without even being able to tell the court what lab tested the samples.

Now, the Bear knows what some of you want to say. "Oh, we shouldn't mess around with Jesus' DNA because we should have faith. And someone might try to clone Jesus."

However, that ship has sailed, if you believe the Catholic media. [Note: the recent official statement from the Polish Eucharistic miracle did reference DNA testing, so apparently, the Church has no objection to the procedure.]

Scientific testing is part of the process, after all, and forensic science -- which is exactly what this is -- evolves. The Church already did do DNA testing. It did it on both the Lanciano sample and the Buenos Aires sample. (It had to, in order to get  comparison, or "DNA match.") It had the two compared. It learned the two DNA samples were identical.

Bear Not Impressed

So we are to believe someone above our pay grade has already made those decisions, but is keeping the results a virtual secret for some reason, leaving Dr. Gómez to cover this astounding discovery on YouTube and Spanish books published with his International Group for Peace?

Now, the Bear said he wasn't going to get into the veracity of any miracles. There is non-DNA evidence for one to believe that they are genuine. The Bear is not in any way arguing that they are not. However, the difference between the Lanciano miracle and the Buenos Aires (claimed) miracle is that the first has been approved by the Catholic Church, and the latter, so far as the Bear has been able to discover, has not, despite alleged evidence of a "DNA match" and beating tissue.

This seems odd to the Bear.

The Bear will state flatly that he sees no reason to believe that DNA testing ever even happened on anything, and must conclude that it is an urban legend perpetuated by credulous Catholic ephemerists and reporters.

If it did happen, he would welcome the data, records and other material from the lab or labs to be made public, or available for independent expert examination. And the Bear is totally on record as for such DNA testing. It would not really force anyone to believe, but it would boost the Christian faith that is constantly under attack by adherents of scientism. The Bear would never tire rubbing their noses in a Jesus DNA match.

Okay, maybe not such a good idea, but the fundraising offer and management of DNA comparison by a reputable, independent expert, based on the data, not the samples, stands. The Bear is sure he could get it done very reasonably.

You're free to make of Dr. Gómez what you will. Cross-cultural assessments of credibility aren't always easy. The Bear is finding his account of the "beating" tissue and the reported exchange between Dr. Zugibe and him ringing a bit odd purely on the basis of pathologists he has worked with in the past. Not because it is inherently impossible -- it is a miracle after all, and can do whatever it wants -- but something just doesn't seem right to the Bear.

Maybe all Bolivian scientists talk like they're giving a dramatic sales pitch for their books. The Bear has never been there, so he doesn't know. 

All the late Dr. Zugibe's lab notes would be welcome, too, as well as the original Buenos Aires lab notes that, according to Dr. Gómez, described the exact same beating. Why is it that "psychoneurophysiologist," miracle-hunter and author Dr. Gómez seems to be the ur-source for all these stories? Why is there no documentation to back of any of these claims? Where is the blockbuster paper Dr. Zugibe -- a prolific medical author who never shied away from Catholic topics  -- would surely write about beating heart tissue from a consecrated Host?

And why is the Church using people who make their living selling books about miracles to investigate them? My goodness, contrast this story with the careful, professional, and transparent Shroud investigations conducted in Europe!

Why Does It Matter?

It doesn't, unless credibility matters. On their face, the Lanciano and Buenos Aires eucharistic miracles may seem credible enough. But if news of a "DNA match" is widely circulated, what may very well be genuine miracles are unnecessarily diminished in credibility by the repetition of supposed facts without reasonable investigation and sourcing. What are people to think the next time the Catholic press makes some claim about a miracle? Or the last time? Or the first time?

Yes, DNA is the gold standard in forensics, and, as the Bear has said, he thinks nothing would be cooler than a DNA match between two Eucharistic miracles. But when it comes to the science and the journalism, the Bear thinks we have to be curious and cautious. We know that from secular science stories where every summer "a new earth-like planet almost certainly teeming with intelligent life" is discovered, only to be dismissed next year on page 38 as a data glitch.

The Bear sincerely hopes he is proven wrong about the DNA match. He'll be anxiously waiting for someone to provide the evidence he missed.


  1. Very good post.

    Too bad the Vatican spends its money on those cheesy Pope videos. It should hire a world class team of experts to coordinate all scientific testing and press releases on all purportedly supernatural Catholic occurrences taking place world wide.

    If something marvellous is confirmed that could dazzle sceptics and increase faith it should be solomnly presented to the world via reputable channels.

    1. YouTube, Sandpiper, YouTube. It doesn't get more credible than that.

  2. Even if they are a match, pretty much any scientist won't believe it (unless they're Catholic) and just think that it's fake. Unless the match can be made in a controlled environment with priests consecrating different hosts which have both been examined beforehand then it won't be seen as valid. I know I don't have to point out how ridiculous that would be. I love genetics but this still makes me very leery.

    "cross cultural assessments of credibility aren't easy" lol, that says a lot

  3. That's an excellent point. But forensic science is specifically the science (collection of disciplines) that are designed to be used to accurately reconstruct past events, and/or be used to prove (or disprove) facts in a court of law. We send people to the execution chamber on the basis of forensic evidence, so it it can be every bit as compelling as experimental science.

    But you are right, there will always be issues surrounding the provenance of items, chain of custody and the like. Could you fake two separate Eucharistic miracles to get a "DNA match?" Sure, but it would involve obtaining a fresh Jewish human heart, preferably with an AB blood type, to start with! And DNA isn't your only worry, but miraculous preservation and other factors.

    But many people will never be convinced no matter what scientific evidence you present. Especially if the Catholic press runs dumb stories like this.

  4. Is it possible that the greatest aid to our faith would be for the tests to be miraculously inconclusive ?

  5. You should start a Kickstarter campaign! I am convinced you'd get funded: Your travel expenses, testing and overhead - estimate what that would be and launch a project. You are obviously highly qualified to do this. Count me in for 100$.

  6. Bear,
    For your information and anyone else that has access to this Italian journal, here is a citation, via PubMed, for the 1971 work by Dr. Linoli, (apparently there is no abstract at least in English)

    Quad Sclavo Diagn. 1971 Sep;7(3):661-74.
    [Histological, immunological and biochemiccal studies on the flesh and blood of the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano (8th century)].
    [Article in Italian]
    Linoli O.

    1. The Bear has no reason to think there was anything fishy about Dr. Linoli's work. He did what he was able to at the time, unfortunately DNA testing had not been invented then. Now get to work on finding out about those labs for the Bear, Laurel ;-)

    2. Dr. Frederick Zugibe served from 1969 until 2003 as chief medical examiner of Rockland County. From his website “Crucifixion and Shroud Studies” ( there is an In Memoriam picture of him in a well-equipped laboratory. He was also an adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A date of 1995 is listed on the paper where he is cited as an adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia. If Dr. Zugibe did indeed examine the Buenos Aires host then he could have done it either at the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office or as a professional courtesy at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In the video on ChurchMilitant, Dr. Castanon states that Dr. Zugibe examined it in “my New York lab.” For a person from New York State this can either mean New York City (Columbia University) or New York State (Rockland County). So either is possible and these labs would be equipped for examination of the material.

      Quickly reviewing Dr. Zugibe’s work (some of it listed on his above mentioned website) indicates that he wrote and published papers and articles on the crucifixion and the Shroud of Turin. I did not come across any reference or paper (at this time) on his website which would lead me to believe that he either examined or wrote up anything on the Buenos Aires host phenomena. He was a devout Catholic and, it appears, a thorough researcher, so I would assume that he would have written something up about a “beating heart muscle.”

      I also found the same information that you did on the San Francisco Forensic Institute. Is there any other “lab” that I missed and you want me to check out, Bear?

    3. Good work, "cub reporter!" I have no doubt Dr. Zugibe knew his stuff, and was good Catholic man. Yeah, his crucifixion research looks a little weird, but forensic pathologists, much like death penalty lawyers are wired different from most people.

      If the Bear ever dies, he hopes people don't go around telling stories about him without providing any evidence. Well, actually, yeah, he wouldn't mind that.

      I think what I'm sensing that most people aren't is that there is a way forensic experts do things, the language they speak, the documents they prepare, and that it is not "science" to relate a dramatic conversation you had with the expert in his lab. None of this makes any sense, and I can definitely not "hear" Dr. Zugibe saying what Dr. Gómez says he did. The two Aussies' account seems more credible to me. But the Bear will have to be a doubting Thomas on this until he sees some documentation. And Dr. Gómez, well... cross-cultural assessments of credibility can be hard...

      I trolled around for California DNA labs, but it's a waste of time, because we don't even know what state or country they are supposedly in, and I am convinced it never happened anyway. So, no, it would be a waste of time.

      The point has been made. Whatever did or didn't happen, the Catholic media have made themselves look like amateurs. Not like the Bear, who is a professional journalist with extensive background in secular reporting.

    4. Bear,
      You’re correct in what you say about documentation. In a previous life, I was the head of an analytical lab for a semiconductor company. When we received samples for examination from an outside source, we had to document all our work with photographs, SEM pictures, measurements, etc. We also had to write up a report and draw a conclusion about the sample under consideration. I would assume forensic pathologists and in particular, Dr. Zugibe would have to do the same.

    5. Laurel, I hate to ask, but do you think you could, without too much trouble, find the actual report online from the Polish miracle, and contact information for the lab/experts?

    6. Bear,
      I left a short reply below on the thread that starts with Netmilsmom. I'll keep digging. I have a few more things I want to check out.

    7. Bear,
      I found some things on the Polish Bishop's Diocese of Legnica site. I extracted some of the Polish and used Google translate. This is what it said:

      Two independent forensic Wroclaw and Szczecin conducted numerous studies, among others, DNA, histological, histochemical, microbial and fungal research.

      So it seems there were two labs doing the work and DNA is mentioned. I couldn't find a reference to a report but I'll keep digging. Probably tomorrow.

    8. "The genetic researches indicate the human origin of the tissue."

      Okay, then, but that raises far more questions than it answers, especially that it was presumably a non-degraded sample. Male for female ought to be determinable if they are able to tell the sample is human. So that would be helpful. Ancestry, probably not accurately.

      The Bear has to confess to being a little out of his depth here, because in a murder case, you never just run one sample of DNA and play guessing games. An incredibly small fraction of DNA is ever tested. Where DNA is da bomb is when you've got a "known" (swab from suspect's cheek) and an "unknown" (skin cells found on a hat at the scene). Then you can can quite confidently say whether or not the two samples came from the same person.

      In fact it is the policy of the Illinois State Crime Lab that they do not even run DNA tests unless they have a standard. So, the attacker could have lost a finger in the process of killing the victim, but unless you've got a suspect in custody and a court-ordered cheek swab, they will not run DNA on that tissue.

      Now that the Bear's mind is seized with this topic, he has to wonder crazy things. DNA, as most people know, comes half from Your mother and half from... Your Father. What would DNA from Jesus look like? And here's a thought, a DNA sample from 2000 years ago ought to be distinguishable from modern DNA, because the genome changes gradually over time among groups. But anyway, the Blessed Mother's DNA would be ordinary human DNA, or would it? Did the Immaculate Conception result in any difference? Jesus had a real body, just like us. A real body has DNA from two sources.

      Wow. Maybe we shouldn't even get into this DNA stuff in this context. But we have. What do they know they're not telling us? Do you think they would ever release their research? Is it ethical to do research and announce scientific findings, but not make anything available for independent examination? Is that science.

      We need a Polish speaker. I had an associate from Poland once. He was an atheist. But he spoke Polish. Last I heard he was Chicago, where all Polish people live.

  7. I thought the DNA proof was for the Polish miracle.
    Did they test the Lanciano miracle against the new one in Poland?

    1. This one

    2. There is no mention of DNA testing in the article (not surprising, but if they did it in Argentina, why not Poland?). There can be no comparison with the Lanciano miracle since the last time it was tested as far as I could determine was 1981 -- pre-DNA. Unless they saved a sample in the lab for future testing back then, or have done it secretly, or the Bear totally missed a huge story about Lanciano DNA testing.

      It is worthwhile to look at this: quote

      The final medical statement by the Department of Forensic Medicine found: “In the histopathological image, the fragments were found containing the fragmented parts of the cross-striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.”

      This is how scientists talk, and write reports. It is very cautious, and tells exactly what they observed. Why the heck didn't NCR give the actual language for the findings of "human" and "signs of distress." Grrr...

      NCR adds: Tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin and found that it bore signs of distress.

      If you say so, whatever. And get back to me on those forensic psychologists doing DNA testing in California.

      NCR is not registering very high on the Bear's credibility meter on this topic, so he would prefer more information than conclusory statements on huge scientific issues rather than the Polish history lesson.

      But in the meantime, the Bear recommends extreme caution when it comes to rumors or claims of "DNA matches."

    3. BTW, "human" and "signs of distress" appear in virtually every story on these alleged miracles. It is difficult to know if they are really in the scientific findings, or if they have become part of the "convention" of hows these stories are written. (Like every tornado story has the redneck saying it sounded like a freight train. Know what I mean?

      If anyone can point the Bear to the original report on the Polish scientific examination, it would be great.

    4. Bear,
      The only thing I could find was a Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University in Krakow Poland. I couldn't decipher anything on their website since it's in Polish. If anyone can read Polish they could go there and see if there are any reports. It would be a really good thing if the local bishop would actually publish the report. I find the references to a "Department of Forensic Medicine" vague. What city is this in? Who are the authors of the report? Who were the people on the commission? Were they respected scientists, religious, lay people? From a journalistic point of view, I find the article lacking in basic who, what where, when, how and why. It goes for the sensational and leaves much to be desired on the facts end.

    5. Netmilsmom -- you're right, there is a report of DNA testing in the Polish miracle. (Of course there was for Buenos Aires, too... but the Bear trusts Poles more than Bolivians.)

    6. Bear,
      This is what I found today (April 26, 2016). According to the Catholic Herald a study was performed by Department of Forensic Medicine in Wroclaw in 2014. A subsequent study performed by the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin.

      Now go to the Diocesan website

      On this first page of the Diocesan website, go to the line that starts KOMUNIKAT and click on it. This apparently takes you to the Bishops statement in Polish. At the bottom of the Bishop’s statement see Radia Plus Legnica and click on that link. You end up at Plus radio Legnica. On that page is the write up for the Eucharistic Miracle in Polish. Below this appears to be interviews with certain people. I think the KEY one is the second one by Dr. Barbara Engel who appears to be a doctor and cardiologist.
      The interview is about 18 minutes long. You need someone who understands Polish. I tried to find an affiliation for her and came up with this link
      It appears that Dr. Engel is a local doctor in Legnica.

      The bottom line is that a report has not been released by any of the parties involved. It would certainly be helpful if they did release it but my conjecture is that this was set up and paid for by the Commission and it was a private communication to the diocese. So it would probably be up to the Bishop to release it to the public.

    7. Thanks! Very good work. I had a Polish associate many years ago but I ought to be able to locate him through the Bar Association.

  8. BTW, one more thing (the Bear always has one more thing, sorry, but Bears find it hard to stop shaking something once they get started). I have recently cleaned up and edited the article, like 15 minutes ago. So if you are not tired of the topic, you might want to give it a quick scan to see if you missed something.

  9. The picture of the suspended corpse touched me. It appears his shoulder is separated. He's young. His mother likely suffered great sorrow upon his death. Let's say a prayer for our emaciated, bearded brother's soul. His corpus contributed in some way to enlightenment about the horror of crucifixion. Eternal rest be granted unto him, O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him.

    1. The Bear supposes that one of the prices you pay for a career knee-deep in murder and mayhem is that you get pretty cold about pictures of dead people. I have gone through autopsy photos while eating lunch. It is not uncommon to hear the most casually cold and even inappropriate comments from even pathologists and murder lawyers. You develop a very mordant sense of humor. I think this is all part of the psychological protection that is thrown up. I think, especially as a defense lawyer, you have to distance yourself from victims in order to be a pure advocate for your client. Later though, memories come back at the oddest times, and they are so vivid. Almost as if the ghosts are saying, "You've had your peace, but now you must acknowledge us."

  10. It's interesting Barbet thought that Donnadieu's cadaver was emaciated because the one he used was looked just as bad to Dr. Zugibe. Also the conversation with Dr. Zugibe doesn't sound right. After reading his book I got the impression that he had a very strong grip on his emotions.

    1. Never met a forensic pathologist who didn't. Must come from peeling people's faces off for a living.

  11. Dear Bear, I have been working on a 2nd story on the Buenos Aires Eucharistic miracle, the one in Lanciano, and one from Poland, with Ron Tesoriero and his book "Unseen New Evidence" as my sources. You are right that the link in my original National Catholic Register article to referring to the the San Francisco Forensic Institute was incorrect. I was focusing on interviewing a number of people and did not follow the link to be sure it went where it should have. However, I have located the correct one and it will be put into the original 2015 article. Here is the link to Forensic Analytical in San Francisco I appreciate your detailed article.

    My understanding regarding the DNA, is that the DNA in the nucleus was inconclusive which was somewhat baffling [my word] because the rest of the sample was so intact. Ron Tesoriero said the hope for the future is that the mitochondria will be tested for DNA because that is where the mother's DNA will be found. If God is the Father, then perhaps there's a good reason the DNA testing in the nucleus did not provide clear results. There is believed to be bone relics from St. Anne and hair from the Blessed Mother, so if that is true, testing DNA in the mitochondria and comparing it with that of the Shroud and Eucharstic miracles could produce some very interesting results.

    1. Patti, the Bear thanks you for your kind words. Obviously, my article was quite opinionated, but, I am a Bear, after all. You may have seen all the documentation the Bear would receive in a criminal case. Unless you just want to cross all your Ts and dot all your Is, all of that isn't really necessary if you are dealing with a reputable lab. But if you want to have the findings verified by an independent expert, the Bear would be happy to make that happen with just the full computer reports and bench notes. And he has dealt with DNA evidence many, many times. Experts don't always cough up everything the first time around ;-)

      You might want to have your experts address the possibility of human DNA being the result of contamination by people touching the host. Of course, I have no idea what sample you had. If it was a substantial bit of human tissue, your DNA expert should have been able to isolate nuclear DNA from contamination.

      I still believe the involvement of the Bolivian gentleman was unfortunate.

      The Lanciano miracle is more interesting, although not, to my knowledge, tested for DNA.

      The Polish miracle was handled better, although it is frustrating to report only "human DNA."

      This is why the Bear believes if the Church is going to do DNA, it should do it just like the other forensic science, such as histology.

      Mitochondrial DNA would be interesting. The Bear only recalls one case for sure, and results can include a lot of people, which, obviously, makes it less useful for criminal cases. But for the purposes of historical science, it might be very interesting. If you have any sort of DNA at all, you should be able to get mitochondrial DNA.

      I wish you good luck on your book, and hope you make exciting discoveries. The Bear humbly tenders his services if other members of your team are not quite as familiar with DNA as the Bear might be. The Bear is confident you will do good science and good journalism.

    2. Patti, the Bear thanks you for your kind words. Obviously, my article was quite opinionated, but, I am a Bear, after all. You may have seen all the documentation the Bear would receive in a criminal case. Unless you just want to cross all your Ts and dot all your Is, all of that isn't really necessary if you are dealing with a reputable lab. But if you want to have the findings verified by an independent expert, the Bear would be happy to make that happen with just the full computer reports and bench notes. And he has dealt with DNA evidence many, many times. Experts don't always cough up everything the first time around ;-)

      You might want to have your experts address the possibility of human DNA being the result of contamination by people touching the host. Of course, I have no idea what sample you had. If it was a substantial bit of human tissue, your DNA expert should have been able to isolate nuclear DNA from contamination.

      I still believe the involvement of the Bolivian gentleman was unfortunate.

      The Lanciano miracle is more interesting, although not, to my knowledge, tested for DNA.

      The Polish miracle was handled better, although it is frustrating to report only "human DNA."

      This is why the Bear believes if the Church is going to do DNA, it should do it just like the other forensic science, such as histology.

      Mitochondrial DNA would be interesting. The Bear only recalls one case for sure, and results can include a lot of people, which, obviously, makes it less useful for criminal cases. But for the purposes of historical science, it might be very interesting. If you have any sort of DNA at all, you should be able to get mitochondrial DNA.

      I wish you good luck on your book, and hope you make exciting discoveries. The Bear humbly tenders his services if other members of your team are not quite as familiar with DNA as the Bear might be. The Bear is confident you will do good science and good journalism.

    3. did the Vatican confirm the Buenos Aires 1996 miracle

    4. I don't know. I'm not sure the Vatican makes those calls, but, rather, the local Bishop.

  12. There is a decent account of the science regarding the recent (most are Church approved) Eucharistic miracles on this site:

    Apparently, human DNA has been detected in several of these recent miracles, but the work of sequencing to extract the genetic profile has been unsuccessful on these.

    The Buenos Aires "miracles" are very suspect. It is commonly referred to as an approved miracle, but has not been approved by any Church authority. Gomez had help in his examinations, but he was in control of the samples and had a conflict of interest as he makes money off of the miracles he investigates. Funny that such astounding results would not be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. One of his "testers" was a local parishioner who was a chemist and another was a parasitologist. There is also an actual approved, recent miracle in Tixtla, Mexico, but the bishop commissioned none other than Dr. Gomez to do the study.

    BTW, it is a very common error spread by numerous web sites that the blood pellets from the Lanciano miracle all weigh 15.85 grams together and separately, but this is false. Dr. Linoli and the WHO exams showed differently. In 1574, Archbishop Gaspare Rodriguez ascertained that the total weight of five clots of blood was the same weight as each of them separately, but the actual total weight is 16.505 grams (8 grams, 2.45 grams, 2.85 grams. 2.05 grams and 1.15 grams).


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