Saint Anthony's Miracles. The Heretic’s Mule

The miracle

The city of Toulouse was a centre of the Cather heresy, which denied the goodness of the material world and also the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Anthony engaged in several public debates with them but, although they could not out-argue him, they were not yet ready to give in. One day one of them demanded a miraculous proof, “If you can make my mule bow down before what you call the Body of Christ, I will believe”. Anthony didn’t want to put God to the test, but naturally there was no way he could avoid this challenge, and so he agreed, leaving the outcome to God. For three days the heretic kept his mule penned up without food. On the third day, a great crowd gathered in the city square. Anthony celebrated Mass in a little chapel and at the end he came out carrying the Blessed Sacrament. Meanwhile, the hungry mule had also been brought along, and a suitable fodder was placed in front of the starved animal. Anthony called out, “Mule! Come here and show reverence to your Creator!” At once the animal came towards Anthony and bowed its head and knees before the Sacrament. The owner of the mule and many heretics were reconciled to the Church.


The Miracle of the Mule stimulates us to think about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. First of all we must say that the Eucharist is a sacramental extension of the Incarnation in space and time. “The Word became flesh and came to dwell among us,” we read in the Gospel of John. However, we know that the presence of Christ did not end with Jesus’ death. As we know on the third day he rose and continues to live among us, through the Church. Therefore, every time we attend Mass we meet Jesus at the deepest, most intimate level. We hear his voice, his Word in the Holy Scriptures, we pray together with our sisters and brothers, and then in the Eucharist we become united to the person of Christ.