A Eucharistic Miracle
On Septuagesima Sunday, 3 February 1822, a Eucharistic Miracle a took place in the chapel of the Association of the Holy Family in Bordeaux – an Association that was still very much in its infancy. In what “remains one of the greatest manifestations of God in the 19th century” (Peyrous), the Incarnate Word graciously introduced the Holy Family into the Mysteries of His Earthly life – a life totally given to the Father.
The following is an account of the Miracle as it was written in the introduction to the General Rules of the Association in 1831 and as it has been handed down to the members of the Family of Pierre Bienvenu Noailles.
On February 3 1822, Septuagesima Sunday, Abbe Delort, formerly Priest in charge of the Parish of Barie and then retired in the parish of St. Eulalie, Bordeaux, was asked by Fr. Noailles to give Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the House of the Ladies of Loreto. This venerable ecclesiastic went, at 4.30 p.m. to the Chapel of these Ladies.
But scarcely had he exposed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar when the Sacred Species moved slightly and the bust and head of Our Lord, surrounded by a brilliant halo, were distinctly seen. They were encircled by the rays of the monstrance like a portrait in its frame, with this difference- that the person was alive. His face was of dazzling brightness and represented a young man of about thirty, exceptionally beautiful. He had fair hair, which fell in ringlets on to his shoulders, he wore a red scarf; his left hand rested on his heart and his right was stretched out towards the people who were in the chapel. He bowed from time to time and seemed then to detach himself from the circle of the monstrance, which appeared bigger than usual. He had a kind of luminous diamond on each shoulder and one would have said that the Chapel was lighted up by brilliant lights.
Amongst the people present, some were absorbed in deep contemplation, others wept tears of joy, love and gratitude; several could not contain their sentiments of fervour.
This miraculous apparition continued during the hymn of the Blessed Sacrament, Domine Salvum Fac, the prayers, canticle and up to the blessing, that is to say, twenty minutes.
Of the twenty-one persons probably present in the chapel (plus those unknown), fourteen testified.
Among all the others, Sr. Marie Louise Françoise Peychaud, who did not see the apparition, but had her eyes closed in deep prayer, heard these words in her heart.
I am the One who is and there is no other.
Honour and the esteem of creatures are but smoke
and I am the One who is.
Their friendship is but dust
and I am the One who is.
wealth and pleasure are but mud
and I am the One who is
and there I no other.
These words set the seal on Pierre Bienvenu’s motto: God Alone!
Pierre Bienvenu Noailles experienced deep joy at this event. In a letter to the Vicar General he writes, “I believe in the reality of the wonder which I did not have the happiness to witness and I am not the only one convinced by these testimonies. Many highly respected priests and pious persons give it as much credence as I do, even though they have not had the same opportunity as I of listening to the witnesses, whose simplicity and fervor are most impressive”.
The Apparition of 1822 was therefore consistent with all that Pierre Bienvenu Noailles had hitherto lived. He was in no doubt. “It is unquestionable proof that the Holy Family is the work of God”, he wrote to Fr. Gouffret. From it he drew new strength to go forward, strength from which the whole Association would benefit, from generation to generation.