Miracles in New England

On June 29th, 2013, tragedy befell a small Catholic parish in Danbury, Connecticut. In the middle of the day, a fire decimated the 90-year-old church that was St. Nicholas Eastern Catholic Church. The damage was so extensive the roof collapsed and nearly all of the inside of the church was burned to the ground.

While church fires do occur, what the clergy found in this church after the fire was extinguished appear to be real miracles. One discovery was that of the crucifix which was hanging in the church. This crucifix was constructed in icon style with a corpus painted on plywood mounted to a larger cross. The cross the corpus was attached to was far more durable. In the fire, the entire cross had burned up, but the icon of Christ was untouched. After the fire, some clearly saw this as a representation of the members of the parish which still existed, even though the building itself was completely destroyed.     

A second discovery, more astonishing than the first, was that of the condition of the tabernacle. The outside of the tabernacle was completely burned and blackened. Sometime after the fire was extinguished the clergy was able to recover the tabernacle. They opened the doors to the tabernacle and inside was the Divine Eucharist, completely untouched by the fire. A silk cloth which lined the inside of the tabernacle was also completely untouched; it remained perfectly white. After the Eucharist was consumed, the cloth turned black and molded within a few moments.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the rebuilt church and there is still more work to be done. There I believe I witnessed a third miracle. That miracle was the joy of the parishioners which was made abundantly clear in the Divine Liturgy. If you have never been to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy it is important to understand that it is sung in its entirety. I don’t remember a time when I heard such joyful participation and such beautiful singing from Catholic parishioners, outside of a choir, whether they be Eastern Catholic or Roman Catholic. This is all the more astonishing when the church had less than 25 or so laity at the Divine Liturgy. It nearly sounded as if it were hundreds. I don’t bring this up as a jab against the lack of singing in church, but more so because of the clear desire to worship the Lord that I witnessed in that liturgy. The fact that the corpus and Eucharist remained untouched seems to be additional evidence that Christ lives in the parishioners of St. Nicholas Church. Even after the fire, the parish seems to be an icon of these miracles. They made clear to the world the power of Christ even in difficult times.   

Kenneth Roberts