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August 12, 2020

Orvieto and the Eucharistic Miracle


  • Orvieto

Visiting time

  • 1 day

How to get there

  • Visitable on foot

Orvieto’s history linked to the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena. The solemnity of Corpus Christi and the relic of one of the most important feasts of Christianity.

In 1263 it is said that a Bohemian priest on a pilgrimage to Rome, while celebrating Mass in Bolsena at the time of the Eucharist, while breaking the consecrated host was pervaded by the doubt that it could really contain the body of Christ. Then from the host came drops of blood that stained the white corporal liturgical linen, and some stones of the altar. This prodigious event now known as the “Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena”, and was immediately referred to the Pope Urban IV who in those days resided in Orvieto. The pontiff sent the Bishop Giacomo to Bolsena to verify the incident asking to have the blood stained linen transferred to Orvieto. In August of the following year (1264) the Pope while showing the Corporal to the people promulgated the Bull “Transiturus de hoc mundo” with which he established the solemn Corpus Christi Day for all of Christendom.

The relics of the miracle are still visible today: the blood stained stones are preserved in the basilica of Santa Cristina in Bolsena, while the Duomo of Orvieto houses the sacred linen in a precious reliquary. For several years the reliquary (an admirable work of a goldsmith in 1337) remained in the chapel of the Corporal in the Duomo of Orvieto, where the frescoes on the walls represent scenes of the miracle. Today it is kept in the rooms of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Only on the feast of Corpus Christi is it carried in the procession and exposed to the public.

Another place linked to this event is also located off the cliff of Orvieto and is known as the “Sasso Tagliato”. It is a large boulder immersed in a countryside on the road between Orvieto and Bolsena. Tradition claims that it miraculously opened just as the blood stained linen was led from the Bolsena to Orvieto.