Communion minister claims water from Eucharist vessel turned blood-like red, Minnesota





December 17, 2003 - Reported in [Spirit] online newspaper. A Minnesota man, Raymond Metzger of Byron, has gone to his bishop with the account of what he says were mysterious red spots and possibly blood that appeared on a "purificator" cloth after cleansing a Communion vessel.

Metzger, 75, a Eucharistic minister who takes the sacrament to those who are homebound, says the occurrence took place the second week of last October. "I had two old friends who lived in the country, and when they were sick I was taking them both Communion," he says. "One died. The other one moved into a condo in town and I started bringing him Communion there. Normally when I serve him Communion, he would have a glass of water there so I could purify my pyx after Communion -- the little thing we carry Communion in."

Besides the pyx, Metzger brought along the purificator cloth used for cleansing the vessel after he has distributed the Communion. "I would pour the water into my pyx, and then rinse that out," he says.

"I went to my friend's house and we had Communion and I purified my pyx and went home, where I put the cloth into a ziplock bag and placed that in my desk drawer," he recalls. "The next week I took it out -- it was early in the morning -- and went off to church. I got to Mass and took the ziplock bag, which I was going to leave on the seat of my car, and I looked and said, 'My gosh,' it was full of stains. I could see it through the plastic. A chill went through my body. I just knew immediately what could have happened -- because I knew no human hands had touched it."

Metzger asserts that there was nothing on his hands, in the bag, or on the pyx or desk that could have caused a red stain. "It was just on the shelf in our desk," he says. "There was nothing unusual about the way it was handled. I showed it to the priest after Mass and said, 'What do you think?' and he said, 'It looks like blood to me. Why don't you wash it.'"

Instead, Metzger took it to show his friend, who became excited. Some of the red even soaked through from one layer to another. Photographs were taken of the more than one hundred small spots where water splashed during the vessel cleansing. "I didn't know what to do," he says. "I wrote Spirit Daily a letter, I wrote Adoremus a letter. I just didn't know what to do. When I talked to priests, they said, 'I don't know! We don't have any idea what to do about it.' I did talk to the bishop about three weeks ago, and he said, 'Wash it.' I said, 'Bishop, I don't want to wash it. I'd sooner just have it analyzed.' He looked at me and said, 'As your bishop I'm telling you, wash it. We'll deal with anything extraordinary later."

Like Metzger, who has shown obedience, we respect the discernment of the bishop, Most Reverend Bernard J. Harris of Winona -- at the same time that we respectively and strongly urge more inquiry into such alleged phenomena. In recent years, similar claims of Eucharistic phenomena made in at least five other states -- Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Arizona -- have fallen by the wayside. In Utah a residue that resembled blood was reported in a church near Salt Lake City during the early 1990s.

The lesson? "I am still trying to discern this message from God," says Metzger. "I constantly see priests leave the vessels after Mass with no purification, and no show of reverence, as though once Communion is over, it's not the Eucharist any more. I have been twice told by priests to just wash the cloth."

Under obedience, this he did.

"I washed it because the bishop ordered me to wash it," he reports. "We soaked it in cold water first, then we used Shout and some other bleach and detergent, and my wife scrubbed and scrubbed it, until her knuckles were almost white, and then dried it, and the stains were still there. They didn't come out. They faded a little bit, but looked more like bloodstains than ever. In my heart I knew the stains would be there."

The message seems to be that Christ is truly Present in the Eucharist, says Metzger -- present in His cleansing, all-powerful Blood. He has offered the cloth to the bishop with the understanding that it not be destroyed. He says most priests have shown little or no interest. "They don't return my phone calls when I tell them what it is. This is my life now, defending the Eucharist," he says. "I'm now constantly challenging people when they have no respect for it."