Eucharistic Miracle in Seefeld, Austria

May 16, 2022 / Written by: Thomas Buswell

Though at first glance one would not expect it, the tiny village of Seefeld, today home to little more than 3,000 people, was the sight of a spectacular Eucharistic miracle over 600 years ago.

On 25th March 1384, which was simultaneously Holy Thursday and the Feast of the Annunciation, the knight Oswald Müsler attended Holy Mass in the parish church of St.Oswald, Seefeld.

The Eucharistic Miracle happened on Holy Thursday in 1384

Müsler was infamous for unjustly imprisoning those travelling through his lands and extorting money from them; those who could not pay would be left to rot away and die. When this fearsome knight arrived on Holy Thursday armed along with his men, the local priest dared not refuse his demand for an especially large host, typically reserved for the priests.

The Blood Host and the Knight Oswald Müsler

Holy Card showing the Miracle

Instead of kneeling, Müsler demanded the large Host be given to him whilst standing. Immediately as he received communion however, the huge formidable knight sank to his knees as the stone floor beneath his feet gave way like quicksand! Whilst he was falling he desperately attempted to grasp the nearby altar for support, only to find that the hard stone altar melted through his fingers like a knife through hot butter. Utterly helpless, the knight cried out in desperation to God for mercy. Like Goliath, this proud giant was thus humbled by our Lord. He then begged the same priest whom he had previously threatened to now remove the Host he had unworthily received from his mouth.

As soon as the priest had removed the Host, the ground suddenly became stable again and the knight regained his footing. Many in the church observed how the Host had now turned bright red, dripping with blood! Deeply humbled by this clear rebuke from our Lord, the knight immediately entered the nearby monastery in Stams (Tyrol) for 2 years of severe penance for his sins before dying a natural death.

News of the miracle soon spread rapidly throughout the whole realm, and soon a hostel had to be constructed to house the many visiting pilgrims. The knight Parzifal von Weineck also donated the gilded monstrance which still contains the miraculous Host today. Realizing the Church was too small; the Duke Friedrich IV of Austria therefore commissioned a new church to be constructed. This pilgrimage site was a personal favourite of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria, who also commissioned the special ("Heiligenblutkappelle”) chapel to be built around the bloodstained Host itself. Since that time St. Oswald’s church in Seefeld has remained one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Austria. The imprints left by the knight on the altar and in the floor can also still be seen when visiting St. Oswald’s church today.

Give honor and glory to God

The tale of this proud knight being humbled on the celebration also reminds us Catholics how we should view this Lenten season. Our Lord chose to manifest his displeasure and chastise Müsler simultaneously on Holy Thursday and the Feast of the Annunciation for a reason.

Painting of the Miracle

On Holy Thursday we remember our Lord’s emphasis on the importance of humility by his washing of his disciples’ feet. On the feast of the Annunciation we also commemorate the Blessed Virgin’s tremendous humility, docility and submission to the will of God as she declared "Ecce Ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”. We must therefore seek to imitate this humility, since as St. Augustine argued it is the foundation of all virtues; the contrary vice of pride being the root of all sin. In so doing we will give honour and glory to God.

Furthermore, the Seefeld parish priest’s acquiescence to Oswald Müsler must not be repeated by the clergy of our time. They must learn from our Lord’s rebuke to Müsler, who so callously abused his power by unjustly imprisoning and starving travelling merchants to death. They must not be intimidated by those today who abuse their power and disregard the intrinsic value of human life. Politicians and world leaders today arguably wield far greater power than knights and nobles of old. But do any of them openly abuse their power like Müsler to harm the weak?

The inalienable right to life

The Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC, states that the “inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (CCC: 2273). However, many politicians abuse their power to vote for pro-abortion legislation. Is this not a violation of God’s law to violate this “inalienable right to life” for unborn babies?

Describing violations of the 5th Commandment, the Catechism unequivocally states that “formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense” (CCC: 2272) whilst Canon Law 1398 declares that “a person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication”. Politicians who therefore knowingly help facilitate murder of the unborn may therefore be at risk of ipso facto excommunication, even if the excommunication is not declared publically. Several of these politicians who publicly, knowingly and persistently support this excommunicable offence against God’s law still attempt to receive Holy Communion.

However, such politicians are expressly forbidden to do so under Canon Law 915 “those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”.

Interior of St. Oswald's Church, Seefeld
Interior of St. Oswald's Church, Seefeld

But I call you to account for his blood

(EZ 33:8)

But as Christians, are we really allowed to judge the sins of another like this? Whilst only God can see into our hearts, the faithful are indeed also called to correct others from their manifest public sins: “if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked man from his way: that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand” (Ezekiel 33:8). Denying pro-abortion politicians Communion would thereby demonstrate their need to repent like Müsler, whilst also complying with official Church teachings surrounding the necessary preconditions for worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament.

Several bishops have also drawn attention to how it serves as a scandal for others when politicians who publicly and persistently violate the official moral teaching of the church are treated by the clergy as though they were in a state of grace. The Catechism also explains how such scandals can easily lead others into sin, since it suggests to the faithful that repentance from grave sins such as abortion is apparently unnecessary (CCC: 2284). The clergy therefore have the pastoral duty to refuse such people Holy Communion to draw attention to the evil being done to innocent life, the “constitutive element” of Christian civilization (CCC: 2273).

So whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord

(1 Corinthians 11:27)

Exterior of St. Oswald's Church, Seefeld
Exterior of St. Oswald's Church, Seefeld

Remembering the story of Oswald Müsler, we must not let ourselves be intimidated by those who unjustly abuse their power to harm the weak. Müsler’s formidable worldly strength was shown to be utterly useless in the end when our Lord intervened.

The clergy should learn from the story of this miracle to resist the Müslers of our time, not least of all for the good of their own souls. St.Paul’s warning “Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27) must never be forgotten.

Our Lord sees inside all of our souls and knows all our secrets. It is therefore of paramount importance that we are in a state of grace each time we receive Holy Communion, rather than attempting to satisfy prideful desires to appear outwardly pious whilst living a life of grave sin. This is the lesson of Oswald Müsler.