This story was given to me by a Catholic friend. A quick search on the internet to try to corroborate the story turned up sites that were not Traditional. Because of that, I was almost tempted to dismiss the story. Then, when visiting with another friend, I related the story and wondered if a serious investigation had ever been conducted by the local bishop. My friend suggested that, already before Vatican II, bishops downplayed or ignored miracles as miracles did not fit in with their ecumenical agenda.
In an attempt to verify that this miracle did take place, we contacted someone who is putting together a book about the miracle and about the life of the priest connected with the miracle. Another person, who knew the priest, confirmed that the present-day bishops are not in favour of hearing about miracles in their dioceses and have done all they could to destroy belief in this miracle.
If anyone has further information about this miracle or on the impact that it had on the parish, please contact us.
Eucharistic miracle in Alberta, Canada
On July 18, 1946, Father Gino C. Violini stood before a small wooden church in a little town nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies in Southern Alberta. St. Joseph’s was a forlorn, nearly-abandoned little mission church.
A small group of people gathered around this man dressed in mourning. They said they didn’t need a priest; Cowley didn’t need a priest, and if it ever came to pass that they needed one, they would inform Bishop Carroll of the fact. Furthermore, they didn’t want to see him reading his breviary, and he could get rid of that cassock.
He celebrated his first Mass at St. Joseph’s the following Sunday. There were nine people in the pews. Well, he had to start somewhere, and he delivered the best sermon ever, in his opinion, to those nine people. The following Sunday, there were only four who had come to adore their God.
The next two years were not crowned with success. The collection was laughable. He could afford a loaf of bread which he’d cut into seven parts, one part for each day of the week, and feasted on dandelion salad. Winter is an especially cruel season in Cowley, and he’d find his blankets snow covered when he awoke in the morning, as the rectory walls were split open from the many seasons that had dried and shrunk the logs apart. His first Christmas collection was a dollar and thirteen cents. The church was no warmer than the rectory, so the water would freeze in the cruets, even though he placed them on a little coal stove.
Father had had it. One day he sat down and wrote a sixteen-page letter, addressed to Bishop Francis P. Carroll, the gist of which was — this town is a write-off, and I want to stamp the dust of it off my feet. The Bishop rejected each and all of his requests for a transfer, and told him to stay put. He had full confidence in Father Violini, and he expected him to bring about a full Catholic revival in this parish, which had been so long neglected. After the latest of these rebuffs, Father was ready to pray for a noble death. But he was in for a great revelation.
On the feast of Corpus Christi, he awoke early and headed for the church for morning prayers. As he walked to the church, he noticed the front door hanging off its hinges. He hurried in and gazed at a scene of great destruction. The walls were in shambles, the statues destroyed and then he noticed the tabernacle had been split open and the consecrated Hosts were scattered down the main aisle. One by one, he gathered them up, counting each one. They were all there except the large Benediction Host which he could find nowhere.
It was raining, The gray sky reflected his anguish. He notified Father Harrington of the Crowsnest deanery who quickly organized a search party of some two-thousand people. They searched Bellevue and Hillcrest, Blairemore and Coleman; some came from as far as Michel and Natal in British Columbia, yet none of the people of Cowley would help. The search party combed miles of Highway 3. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police picked up two suspects at Cowley, and questioned them at Blairemore. They had stolen a pickup truck, and abandoned it down the highway when the police had discovered them.
Father Gino recognized them as transients from Lethbridge who had been seated next to him at a baseball game a couple days before, and who were looking to find work in the coal mines at Crowsnest Pass. He listened to the questioning by Sergeant Parsons: “Remember, it may not mean much to you or to me, but you fellows stole his Jesus.” Father explained the meaning of the Blessed Sacrament to them, and how precious it is to Catholics. He then offered to drop all the charges if they would tell him where they had discarded the Host.
Touched by his explanation, they began to show remorse and offered to help find It. One admitted to having discarded it through the truck window just before the police took them into custody. He didn’t know what it was, but he knew it was incriminating evidence. The rain had hardly stopped when they all piled into the police cruiser, the two suspects still handcuffed. Father calculated that if the Host had been dropped as these two men had said, the search parties would surely have found it if the rain had not dissolved it. It was about six o’clock that evening when they arrived at the spot. The sky was clearing; there was a bit of blue in the West.
As they rounded a corner east of Bellevue, they all saw the Host suspended in midair beside the highway. Beautiful rays of coloured light shone from it. Even before the car had stopped, Father leaped from the car and ran towards this astonishing sight. Sergeant Parsons was right behind him. Father fell to his knees in adoration, overcome with joy and wonder. Sergeant Parsons did likewise, and landed in a pool of mud.
Father stood up and reached for the Host. It looked as white and fresh as the day he had consecrated it. As he touched it, they heard: “Father Gino, please take me back to Cowley.”
Here was Christ on the road, asking to be returned to a desecrated church; to a parish that Father had long wanted to leave. As they returned to Cowley, Sergeant Parson’s eyes constantly left the road to gaze at the wonder Father held there, beside him. The Bishop arrived the next day. He told Father Gino that he would be the one to rededicate the church. The Bishop prayed with him in the devastated sanctuary. As he finished, he turned to Father Gino to say: “Great changes will soon take place in this parish.”
Sergeant Parsons came to ask for instruction a few days later. His wife and children soon joined him, and later two of his constables from Pincher Creek. As time went on, more and more Catholics began to return to their church. The parish mission was so popular that the beer hall shut down when it was in progress. The patrons, many of whom were not Catholic, would carry the bar stools to the church to listen to Father’s sermons. They even had to take out the pot-bellied stove to make room for everyone.
The little church, so long abandoned, was now full to overflowing every Sunday.
The November/December 2013 issue of the Recusant is now available here for download.
Number CCCXXIX November 2nd 2013
Regularly over the last 20 years I have said that the Society of St Pius X could fail. Colleagues never liked me saying it, and contrary to what some people think, I did not enjoy saying it either, but here we are. Here for instance is a quotation sent to me recently by a reader, taken from an ordinations sermon I gave in 1984, and which of course I had completely forgotten:–
“At the beginning of the Church Militant Jesus Christ led his followers through the catacombs and persecution out into the open, and at the end of the Church Militant He may well lead them from the tent in the open field through persecution back to the catacombs. If it comes to that, and if we make it to the catacombs, for many of us it will certainly not have been without the Society but back in the catacombs we may have to do without the Society (…). Dear seminarians! Regularly I tell them (…) that the whole world is against them; that the whole world is going to hell in a hand-basket; that the Society of St. Pius X could easily perish; that the future is dark and where there is no gloom it is full of doom. Do you know, I do believe that if any of my dire forebodings actually came true, seminarians would be pleasantly surprised?”
And what do I think I see now in the “Resistance”? The painful but steady emergence of the joyful remnant of Catholics from the remnant of Traditionalists who in their time emerged from the ruins of Vatican II. Nothing yet persuades me of the need for a structure or a seminary to replace those of the SSPX, but these are early days in the history of the Resistance. What I do think is needed is a base of Resistance operations in England, not far from the Continent nor from London airports, bricks and mortar to lend some solidity to the Resistance, and to provide, for instance, a refuge where priests can recuperate for at least a few days, under no kind of pressure, from the real hardships of today’s apostolate.
The house has been chosen, it does exist, we have agreed to buy, and donations are coming in, but we do now need both £40,000 by the end of November and another £360,000 by mid-December. I do not like making promises, but with the help of God I have no intention of abandoning the defence of the Faith, whatever form that defence may take over the next several years. Please help, and in today’s shadow of tomorrow’s collapse of currencies, do think of making a heavenly investment guaranteed by the whole host of Heaven. Bless you for any and all donations. I attach again details of means of payment.
* In ANY CURRENCY small credit- or debit-card contributions from anywhere in the world can easily reach us via PayPal. ( Go towww.paypal.com/sendmoney and send the contribution to email@example.com)
*Contributions in POUNDS STERLING by banker’s draft or check should be made out and sent to the St Marcel Initiative, P.O. Box 423, Deal CT 14 4BF, England.
* Banker’s drafts or checks in US DOLLARS should likewise be made out to St Marcel Initiative and sent to 9051 Watson Rd., Suite 279, Crestwood, MO 63126, USA (the US contributions will soon be tax-deductible).
* In EUROS, checks made out to “Institut Culturel St Benoît” should be posted to ICSB, BP 60232, F78002 Versailles Cedex, France. Euros can also be sent by wire transfer from inside France to RIB – 20041 01012 6704 149J033 09; from outside France to the International Bank Account Number IBAN – FR85 2004 1010 1267 0414 9J03 309, with BIC – PSSTFRPPSCE
* For other bank wire transfers, please write to us for details at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, in the USA, use the convenient “e-check/bank wire” form at www.stmarcelinitiative.com.