Suor Domeniea dal Paradiso – An apporting Host
Type of Spiritual Experience
Friar Herbert Thurston was a Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order and an historian. He wrote extensively on Catholic mysticism and psychic phenomena and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research. He was also widely read on this subject. He is described as ‘an honest skeptic’., and once said ‘the role of Devil’s advocate is a thankless one and does not make for popularity’.
My overall feeling on reading this was that she said this to please him, but it is here for others to decide.
A description of the experience
Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism
Perhaps one of the most interesting, though not one of the most satisfactory, examples of these telekinetic communions is that presented by the case of Suor Domeniea dal Paradiso, a Florentine nun, who died in 1553. Almost all that we know about her is derived either directly or indirectly from the manuscripts of Father Francesco Onesti di Castiglione, who was her confessor for something like half a century.
He had known her, he declared, almost from her cradle, and the account I am about to quote was written after he had been in intimate relations with her for thirty-four years. He declared that he had prayed for a long time that if the wonderful things he had recorded concerning the same Sister came from God and the spirit of truth, a sign might be given him in this form, viz., that an angel should take her Communion from the Eucharist which he himself had consecrated. He prayed thus for many months without any answer to his prayer and losing heart he began to think he had been guilty of presumption or curiosity. But one Holy Saturday, when he was singing the Mass,
I was about [he writes] to receive the Sacred Host, and I had It there upon the paten, when, after repeating the Domine non sum dignus, l remembered to utter the petition I usually made to obtain the sign I desired. Suddenly I noticed that a fragment of the Host the size of a large bean was lying on the paten a good two inches away from the Host itself. At this I began to wonder how It could have separated ltself so far, and I resolved to take care not to let It fall off the paten, when lo! in an instant, I saw the same fragment upon my left hand, the hand with which I was holding the paten. It lay upon the back of my thumb at the highest point between the juncture with the hand and the knuckle.
At this I was much more astonished and so dumbfounded that I thought no more of the sign I had asked for. But whilst I stood gaping, the fragment as if It had been snatched away by an invisible hand disappeared and was nowhere to be seen either there, or on the paten, or on the altar. Not to cause further delay I consumed the sacred species, but I looked again to see if by some negligence of mine the fragment had fallen on to the corporal, for It could not have fallen anywhere else, but I saw no signs of it. Much troubled I finished the Mass, and after taking off my vestments and making my thanksgiving, I let my mind drift back again to the subject, being inclined to blame myself for negligence, but quite sure that I had not been either sleepy or distracted.
Then suddenly I remembered the sign I had asked for; and in better spirits I determined to pay a visit to Sister Domenica and to find out if my prayer had been granted. I went, and she at last, joyfully smiling at my perplexity, made known to me that she had received the fragment of the Eucharist from her angel guardian as my messenger (nomine meo) on that same day and at the very hour at which I was celebrating.
It must be admitted that this is not a very convincing story, but taking the writer's narrative as a whole he leaves the impression, for reasons it would take too long to develop here, of a perfectly honest witness.
On the other hand, Sister Domenica, though the communications she believed herself to have with celestial beings are of the most extravagant order, and though her delusions, I should be inclined to say, are in some cases patent, was nevertheless devoted to good works, beloved by her community and most austere in her life. She died at the age of eighty, the foundress of a great convent which maintained its fervour for many generations.