The Phial

For humble, little & hidden Fr. Dominic Lentini

Heaven prepares his Beatification on 12/10/97 in a grand manner


On the occasion of the Recognition of his remains –

requested by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints - and to get a relic for the Pope


TESTAMONIAL NOTES FOR BISHOP ROCCO TALUCCI (Bishop of Tursi in Lagonegro Archdiocese)

about the Recognition of Lentini's remains on August 6 1997

"Your Excellency,

while I thank you for the invitation to assist at the Recognition of the mortal remains of the Servant of God Dominic Lentini, I feel duty-bound to have these notes and Archival research of mine reach you in order to dispel any possible doubts about the authenticity of both the aforesaid bone remains, and the orange-glass bottle containing red liquid, of which I was ignorant, since I found no hint of it in official documents.

Note 1. I do not intend giving my interpretation about the phenomenon at which we all assisted on 6 August 1997, at c. 22.00, namely: The liquefaction of the blood-liquid that was in the bottle. It follows nevertheless that there is a historical obligation on us who were present and also for you, to give testimony about the phenomenon that took place concerning the liquefaction of a liquid which beforehand – as Fr. Franco Sirufo confirms for me the next day 7/8/97 - appeared to be totally solid, and he is 'the Promoter of Justice'. As for myself I state and affirm the following:

I did not see the liquid in the solid state because in the beginning the glass-container did not interest me. I was concentrating on the bones. Only then did I consecutively pass on to observe the glass bottle. I tried to take off the stopper. I did not succeed and did not want to use force for fear of breaking the bottle on which I noticed cracks on most parts. I then tried to see if there was any writing or date on the top or bottom of it. And so, while I was holding the bottle in various positions, I noticed that a red liquid ran along inside the moment I held it horizontally in my hands. I asked Dr. Giovanni Chiacchio about it. He is the surgeon who operated on me at Sapri in 13/4/88. He was laughing and said: "It can happen on account of the sudden change of temperature". I replied: "Even by touching it with my warm hands?" Dr. Chiacchio took my hands and said: "In fact they are much warmer than mine!" This same Doctor, before closing everything away (including the bottle with the blood still liquid) in the new coffin - and smiling as always - said: "The liquefaction of the blood could be like that of St. Januarius at Naples!"

I believe so, excellency, and that it suffices to document the fact about the liquefaction of the red solid in the bottle. This was a duty to be fulfilled if for no other reason than for history and posterity: and I myself love history and not opinions!

Note 2. Moreover I am anxious to give assurance about the authenticity of both the bones and the very bottle in question.

Is the orange-coloured glass bottle authentic? What does it contain?

No wonder there was no official trace of it. Even we ourselves, on the evening of the 6th - if the phenomenon of the liquefaction of the red liquid had not happened - would not have taken it into consideration. However there is an oral trace of it among the people which later passed into the written documentation which I have enclosed. The self same octogenarian Fr. Antonio Spagnuolo, who was an official witness at the Tribunal of 6/8/97, spoke out quite suddenly that evening: "I remember that they always spoke to me also about a bottle". Hence the bottle is not an extraneous body to Lentini's remains according to oral tradition. However we ourselves - without anticipating judgements about the nature of the liquefaction phenomenon of 6/8/97 – must point out the problem about its authenticity due to not having official documents about the presence of a bottle: does it date back to Lentini? With today's methods it is easy to demonstrate this and I consider it a matter of duty that this problem be dealt with scientifically. Once the authenticity of this orange-coloured pharmacy bottle has been ascertained, the other question regarding its contents follows naturally: is the blood Lentini's? In the Enclosed Documentation they talk about Trachea (windpipe) or Uvula (at the back of the throat) and not about blood. From the Archives of the "Lentini Library in Lauria", which I originated and direct, I draw my own conclusions.

The Priest Fr. Michele Forastieri, has left us a written account about the 8 days of Lentini's funeral rites, entitled: The Journal. However not all details were noted by him. On the other hand G.B. Pisani (one of Lentini's biographers) sees to it & published them in 1894 in his book: His Sermons, where he reports the daily events of Forastieri's Journal. Pisani adds a note that Fr. Forastieri was able to gather these details about Lentini in his capacity as an "ecclesiastical notary, who was chosen as registrar in the compilation of the servant of God's informative process". In these combined reports (Forastieri's & Pisani's) it is said that blood came out from Lentini's coffin many times & on different days. I am omitting what flowed spontaneously because I consider that whatever was in the bottle (blood with trachea or uvula) should be treated as a blood-sample that was carried out in a technical & official manner. Well then they mention two technical tests which were performed – the first on February 27th and the second on February 28th. I have to say straightaway that the one which concerns the bottle goes back to the blood-tests of the 28th since these were ordered by the Bishop's Delegate who came to Lauria precisely for that reason, and that they were carried out by a Surgeon in the presence of the Official Civil Judge. This is how things went.

On 25/2/1828 the body of Fr. Dominic should have been buried in the grave already prepared by the grave-diggers. The outside burial did not take place either because a 24 hour period had not elapsed since death or because the crowds were getting bigger which were coming to kiss Lentini's venerated body and assist in the meantime at continuous prodigies: the sweet odour, the opening of Fr. Dominic's eyes at the Elevation of the Host during the funeral Mass of the 25th, the body's flexibility as if it was still alive and the blood that flowed. It all led to asking the Bishop for authorisation to bury him inside the Church. Requests were made but no response given. Perhaps at Policastro (the Episcopal See) a more tangible proof was awaited. Here then was an opportunity & the necessity for technical tests on the blood which flowed from Lentini's body. There were two of them: I say two because two different technicians carried them out, but in reality each of them performed it twice. Here they are:

a) The blood-test of 27/2/1828: The Phlebotomist Biagio Parrazzini, performed two blood-lettings towards evening. From the first test on the hand, a few drops came out, whereas from the second on the right shoulder "a spurt of bright reddish blood" came out. This sample was probably sent or communicated orally to Policastro through those specially sent to Lauria in those days. Notice that this refers to blood-tests from the arm and hand, whereas the oral tradition is about uvula or trachea in the bottle.

b) The blood-test of the 28/2/1828: I believe that the blood test of the 27th convinced the Bishop that what was happening around Lentini's body was not people's imagination but fact. Therefore he sent his Delegate in the person of Fr. Francesco De Rossa, the Pro-Vicar General. What would his Delegate request but to repeat the blood-test just like the one of the 27th? This was carried out twice by the surgeon D. Nicola Giordano. If 'phlebotomist Parazzini' drew blood from the veins, then 'surgeon Giordano' was able and was obliged to carry out a surgical operation. He did so at the trachea or else at the uvula - otherwise at them both. There were two bleedings: the first at 22.00 (by strange coincidence the same time as the liquefaction of 6/8/97) and the second at 1 o'clock that night. One reads as follows about these blood-tests: "… and God was pleased to make bright and sparkling blood gush from the veins of a 4 day old corpse (since it was the 4th day since his death). At 1 o'clock that night in the presence of the same Delegate, local Judge and people the blood was again made come out from the very same blood-test." They say the very same blood-test, which leads one to choose either uvula or trachea, but given the proximity of the two anatomical organs the word "very same" could be understood as meaning at the very same point. A scientific test should clarify this.

My own conclusion The blood tests of the 28th are the only official ones. They were ordered and performed in the presence of the Bishop's Delegate and the Civil Judge and they were technically reliable by means of a Surgeon's operation and not just anybody's. Everything was certainly put into some sort of container: and directly or consecutively into the orange pharmacy bottle: which is precisely the one we have just found. So where was this bottle put - containing as it did indeed something of Lentini's sacred body? I believe that: juridically, morally and devotionally speaking - it had to be put next to Fr. Dominic's whole body. Otherwise it would have been a sacrilege to separate the uvula or trachea of the Preacher of Lauria from the rest of his holy body!

I think, excellency, I have acquitted myself of the historical duty that I proposed. The theological one linked to the scientific backup or support belongs to your sphere of competence, canon-right and duty. Certainly for me, since I am nourished daily from this mystical field, it is quite straightforward that this 4-day old blood, albeit after 169 years, is still the same ruddy and sparkling blood so as to tell us that in the Living God one is ever living but that one lives in Him only through the Precious Blood of Jesus. Who knows whether the phenomenon shall have its own future following, but I believe that what has taken place - whether it be occasional, natural or providential - it should make us say: Thank you, Fr. Dominic, for manifesting yourself present among us and for calling us, as faithful Servant of the Cross, to the essential mystery of the Faith: to go up to the Cross, to live from the Cross, to bear courageous witness to the Cross: to give the world of today's "strong-spirits" the Living and Liberating Culture of the Cross.

And as for the culture of these "strong-spirits" which I noticed in someone even on the evening of August 6th, already cited, I refer them all to Lentini's merciful sweetness: "One of those who were used to being called "strong-spirits", denied a priori these prodigies which were seen in that blessed corpse. However he finally decided to see for himself and went to the church at some hour at night. As he came near the corpse he was astonished to observe many supernatural things with his own eyes. And this was nothing in comparison with his great surprise when, as he drew near the face of the Servant of God, the latter opened his eyes for him, and stared at him with such a certain penetrating look." (ref. Pisani who is one of Blessed Lentini's biographers).

Lauria, 8 August 1997, Feast of St. Dominic (= the founder of the Dominicans)

Don Mario Riccio, Priest


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