An oil of special origin

In the Old Testament, manna is described as ‘like coriander seeds with the appearance of bdellium’ (Numbers 11:7).  The word manna has been adopted to describe an oil which appears on, and often flows from, the relics of many saints. The perfumed oil that has been observed originating from these relics generally takes the form of a colourless,  tasteless fluid that has occurred in different countries with various atmospheric conditions and under circumstances that are considered unfavourable and unusual.

1 - St. Andrew the ApostleThe first reported case of this mysterious fluid seems to have involved the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle. An anniversary of his death was marked in a special way in the church where his remains were entombed in Patras, Greece. A Greek text regarding this event was obtained and translated by St. Gregory, bishop of Tours, before he died in 594. The document related that a miracle was accomplished by the apostle in the form of manna that presented itself in the form of a perfumed oil that flowed from the sepulcher. It was related further that for years the oil was so abundant that at times it dripped from the tomb and flowed half-way down the aisle of the church.

The relics were moved from the city of his martyrdom and were deposited in the Basilica of the Apostles in Constantinople. The phenomenon continued, prompting Cardinal Baronio to comment at the time that the entire Christian world knew about the substances that collected on the apostle’s tomb. The manna was gathered as a relic and as such was distributed with the consequence of many miracles of healing, all recorded.

2 - Basilica of AmalfiOn the occasion of the fourth Crusade in 1204, Cardinal Peter of Capua collected the bones of the apostle in a silver urn and brought them to safety in Italy where he placed them in the Cathedral of Amalfi.

A century later, the phenomenon was again noticed. An elderly gentleman worshipping in the church was somehow alerted to the miracle and notified the priest who looked inside the tomb to discover the presence of the perfumed oil. The townspeople were informed of the miracle and converged on the site. The oil was applied to areas of pain with one man’s sight being restored after several years of blindness. Even though the phenomenon continued with many miracles performed, it seems from records kept by the basilica that the tomb eventually was ‘lost to oblivion’ until the 2nd January 1603 when a stonemason while working in the church discovered a slab of marble with the inscription Corpus S. Andreas ap. Beneath the slab was an urn overflowing with perfumed oil. He duly notified the priests who in turn notified the bishop. A document was drawn before a notary and was signed by the bishop, mayor and many witnesses. This document was placed within the urn which was once again buried and apparently forgotten.

3 - The cryptThe relics were again delivered from obscurity on the 28th January 1846 when restorations were being conducted in the church.  They were officially recognized and moved to the main altar where they are still situated today. From then on the manna has been collected punctually on the 28th January, the 26th June and the 30th November (the anniversary of his martyrdom) when the substance never fails to appear. Some years there is a great quantity, other years less.

This mysterious secretion has also been noticed exuding from the bones of many other saints: St. Nicholas, St. Walburga, St. Gerard Majella, St. Sharbel Makhlouf, etc.

These appearances of perfumed oil from sanctified bones and bodies (never has this been observed in any other corpse) while wholly unexplainable by physicians and scientists today, are likewise mystifying to the Church, but it would seem that the Lord wishes to draw attention to these, His faithful sons and daughters, and to anoint their remains with an oil of special origin. As early as the eighth century, St. John Damascene recognized this phenomenon. His observation would seem as appropriate today as it was then: ‘Christ gives us the relics of saints as health-giving springs through which flow blessings and healing. This should not be doubted. For if at God’s word water gushed from hard rock in the wilderness … yes, and from the ass’ jawbone when Samson was thirsty, why should it seem incredible that healing medicine should distill from the relics of the saints?’

14 Responses to “An oil of special origin”


  1. 1 Judy September 7, 2009 at 14:17

    Thank you for this enlightening and interesting post!

  2. 2 Cinzia September 7, 2009 at 14:19

    Wow how interesting Gabriella.

    I am ashamed to say this, but poor ignorant me had never even heard of this special oil flowing from the relics of certain saints. I have to confess I had never even heard of some of the saints you mention …

    and I always thought “manna” meant “bread from heaven.”

    Shame … shame … shame …😦

    Needless to say, I am learning A LOT from your fabulous blog.

    So don’t stop !!

    Thank you. 🙂

  3. 3 Katherine Jane September 7, 2009 at 14:44

    How interesting indeed!
    I had also never heard about this and the thought that comes to mind is ‘with all these wondrous signs from above, we still don’t believe’????????

  4. 4 michael September 7, 2009 at 15:18

    Cinzia – If it makes you feel better, I had never heard this story either!

    Gabriella
    Thanks for a very interesting post. God Bless!

  5. 5 anne bender September 7, 2009 at 16:00

    Gabriella thank you so much for all that you do! I add my name to the list of the newly educated on Manna as a result of this post. I would love to see that substance and I wonder if they use it for anything today, or is it simply stored somewhere. I am also amazed that the relics were buried and lost for so long. I think that would fall in the “what were they thinking!?!” category.

    The Basilica looks gorgeous! I love all those steps! It must feel like climbing to heaven and I imagine the inside is breathtakingly beautiful as well!

    God bless you Gabriella-you are wonderful!

  6. 6 ginny September 7, 2009 at 17:23

    Very interesting Gabriella, and I did hear of the oozing oil and the scent of perfume coming from holy people still living..Padre Pio for one before he died. I find this so amazing and it only adds to one’s faith to make it stronger!

  7. 7 Karin September 7, 2009 at 18:12

    Gabriella,
    This post was as beautiful as it was informative. What a true gift God has given us in the saints and their relics.
    Thanks and God Bless!

  8. 8 Cara September 7, 2009 at 21:21

    Anne, the people of Amalfi are devoted to St. Andrew for whom they hold solemn celebrations twice a year when the “Miracle of the Manna” occurs more frequently, and an ampoule in the silver urn is filled with “The Manna” . The presence and the quantity of the liquid has a propitious value for the people of Amalfi who after the ceremony receive pieces of cotton wool dipped in the sacred oil.

  9. 9 ViolinMama September 7, 2009 at 21:59

    I learned so much – my FAVORITE thing! Thank you!!!This was beautiful and incredible!

  10. 10 Barbara September 7, 2009 at 22:43

    Yes, I also have heard of the oil that comes from the relics, my former priest witness the oil of Padre Pio. I love you lessons on religion. I miss that here in the country. My former priest was a minister and a teacher and he lived with my ex and I for about 6 months and that was such a blessing.. Mass everyday in our own home.

    Thanks for the wealth of info.

    Barbara

  11. 11 Antonella Oliver September 8, 2009 at 08:17

    Yes Ginny…I too have read from the book “Apparitions of Mary in the world today” by Rene Laurentin that there are people worldwide who ooze oil from their bodies and the scent of perfume is around them and also of the flow of tears. In a statue of Our Lady in Akita Japan the tears sometimes turn to blood. These are all signs that God wishes to leave amongst his people so that they may turn back to him…….many miracles follow these signs. Our Lady says that the tears of blood are because of the many sorrows that she is suffering today from an indifferent people and the multitude of sins. Thanks Gabriella for this post.

  12. 12 Andrea September 8, 2009 at 13:28

    Che bello,ho appreso una cosa che non sapevo. Padre Pio,riguardo al profumo di rose,una volta,con un pò di durezza disse ad un tale che gli fece domande sul profumo:” Bada bene,Dio non concede questi doni per la santificazione personale ,ma perchè vuole attirare anime”.

  13. 13 Ron September 8, 2009 at 14:10

    As Gibbon says, “The Catholic Church from the time of the Apostles and their disciples, has claimed an uninterrupted succession of miraculous powers, the gift of tongues, of visions and of prophecy, the power of expelling demons, of healing the sick and of raising the dead” (Decline and Fall, I, pp. 264, 288), thus miracles are so interwoven with our religion, so connected with its origin, its promulgation its progress and whole history, that it is impossible to separate them from it. The existence of the Church, the kingdom of God on earth, in which Christ and His Holy Spirit abide, rendered illustrious by the miraculous lives of saints of all countries and all times, is a perpetual standing witness for the reality of miracles (Bellarmine, “De notis eccl.”, LIV, xiv). The well-attested records are to be found in the official Processes for the canonization of saints. Mozley held that an enormous distinction exists between the miracles of the Gospel and those of church history, through the false notion that the sole purpose of miracles was the attestation of revealed truth but Newman denies the contention and shows that both are of the same type and as well-authenticated by historical evidence.

  14. 14 Mara September 8, 2009 at 14:12

    Andrea, Gabriella parla del tuo santo patrono🙂
    Anch’io non conoscevo questo fatto.


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