The miracle of Lanciano is widely regarded as the very first recorded Eucharistic miracle of the Catholic Church. In the Italian town of Anxanum (now Lanciano, Italy) a Basilian hieromonk was tasked to celebrate the Mass. The Monks of Saint Basil had established the monastery under the patronage of Saint Longinus. Tradition holds that Saint Longinus was the centurion at the Crucifixion and used his lance to pierce the side of Jesus (Matthew 27:54).
Using unleavened bread, the monk began experiencing doubts in his mind on the doctrine of transubstantiation and was not fully believing that Christ was present in the Holy Eucharist. The second he said aloud the words "This is my Body, this is my Blood" the bread changed into living flesh and the wine changed into blood which quickly coagulated into five globules of different shapes. The Archbishop began an investigation and testimonies of the monk and other witnesses were recorded. These events took place some time during the 700s AD. The globules of blood and flesh were collected and placed in a special ivory reliquary.
In 1574, Archbishop Antonio Gaspar Rodriguez ordered the blood be weighed. With several witnesses present, it was recorded that both the flesh and blood showed no signs of deterioration or rot. When weighed,
"The blood divided into five unequal parts weighs as much all together as each does separately."
Odoardo Linoli, a professor in anatomy and pathological histology and former head of the Labortaory of Pathological Anatomy at the Hospital of Arezzo was granted permission to analyze the flesh and blood. His analysis found that the flesh is human cardiac tissue of AB blood type, proteins in the blood (matching normal blood) and no evidence of preservatives. This analysis was then independently confirmed by Ruggero Bertelli, a retired professor of human anatomy in 1981.
Professor Linoli asserted in his report that if the blood was collected from a cadaver, rapid deterioration would have set in and the flesh and blood would not appear as fresh as it does. He further wrote in his report that due to the age of the samples and that they were stored in an un-sealed container for nearly 1000 years, the flesh and blood should have had no chance at staying so fresh and clean. Here are some excerpts from the report:
In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium
The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
The Benedictine monks assumed the monastery in 1176. As of 2012, the relics are kept in the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano and are displayed in a silver and glass reliquary made in Naples in 1713.
The man who feeds on my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in Me, and I in him (John 6:35, 54-56)