Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Seeing a Eucharistic Miracle in Santarem Portugal

On my recent pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela, etc., one stop was at Santarem, Portugal. A Eucharistic Miracle took place here in the 13th century. We were able to see this miracle first hand. This short video explains what happened in this miracle.

To say I was moved by seeing this miracle is an understatement. I wept. In fact I couldn't stop weeping.

I had heard about Eucharistic Miracles before seeing the one at Santarem, and to this day, they still occur. More recent Eucharistic miracles have been tested by scientists. These miracles reveal some astonishing similarities. 

I include the conclusions on the scientific testing done on these most recent miracles. I also include the Miracle in Lanciano from 750 AD, which was also tested scientifically in 1971.

The Eucharistic Miracle in Tixla, Mexico in 2006

  • Bishop Alejo Zavala Castro formed a theological commission to investigate the phenomenon, and to determine whether the host was supernatural or simply a hoax of some kind. Dr. Ricardo Castañón Gomez, who had also investigated the Buenos Aires miracle of 1996, led a team of scientists in an intensive study of the host between 2009 and 2012. The study reported the following findings:
  • The reddish substance “corresponds to blood in which there are hemoglobin and DNA of human origin.
  • The blood type was found to be AB, which corresponds to the miracles at Buenos Aires and Lanciano, as well as traces found on the Shroud of Turin.
  • Forensic experts found that the substance originates from the interior of the host, which would seem to discount the theory that it was somehow planted from outside.
  • Part of the blood was found to have been coagulated since 2006, but further examination shows the presence of flesh blood from 2010.
  • The blood contains intact white blood cells, red blood cells, and active macrophages that engulf lipids, indicating an active metabolism.
  • The tissue seems to correspond to the muscle of the heart, the myocardium, as found in other Eucharistic miracles. Further, this was found to be living cardiac muscle. Normally after 48 hours, the tissue dies, but this case, 3 months had passed before the results could actually be obtained.
  • The study concluded that “the event has no natural explanation.”

Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1996

  • Taken only a few weeks after the host was first discovered, the photographs showed that the host had grown in size, and now had the appearance of bloody flesh. After three years of observation, the host had not shown signs of decomposing, so Bishop Bergoglio asked that it be scientifically analyzed.
  • In 1999, Dr. Frederick Zugibe, a cardiologist and forensic pathologist, began performing tests on the miraculous host. What he discovered about the composition of the host is truly stunning:
  • The analyzed material appeared to be a fragment of heart muscle typically found in the wall of the left ventricle of the heart, close to the valves.
  • This type of muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart, and the left ventricle connects nearly all the organ systems by pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.
  • The blood found on the sample was indeed human, and type AB, which also matches the blood found on the host of Lanciano and from samples extracted from the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus.
  • The tissue appeared to be in an inflamed state, and contained a large number of white blood cells, indicating that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken, since these white blood cells die outside of a living organism.
  • Furthermore, the white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, further indicating that the heart was under severe stress, as if the person themselves had been beaten severely near the chest area.
  • In an effort to keep the studies as objective as possible, Dr. Zugibe was not informed about the origin of the samples he had analyzed. But after completing the studies, he remarked, “You have to explain one thing to me: If this sample came from a dead person, how could it be that while I was examining it, the cells of the sample were moving and pulsating? If the heart came from someone who died in 1996, how could it still be alive?” When he was informed that the samples had been taken from the miraculous host, he stated, “This will remain an inexplicable mystery to science—a mystery totally beyond her competence.”

Sokolka Poland in 2008

  • On October 29, the container with the host was transferred to the Divine Mercy Chapel in the rectory and placed in the tabernacle. The next day, by decision of the archbishop, the stained host was taken out of the water and placed on a small corporal, which was then put back in the tabernacle. The host was kept this way for three years, until it was solemnly brought to the church on Oct. 2, 2011. A piece of the altered host was taken and analyzed independently by two experts in order to ensure the credibility of the results.
  • When the samples were taken for analysis, the undissolved part of the consecrated host had become embedded in the cloth. However, the red blood clot was as clear as ever. This transformed part of the host was dry and fragile, inextricably interwoven with the rest of the fragment, which had kept the form of bread.
  • The results of both independent studies were in perfect agreement. They concluded that the structure of the transformed fragment of the host is identical to the myocardial (heart) tissue of a living person who is nearing death. The structure of the heart muscle fibers is deeply intertwined with that of the bread, in a way impossible to achieve with human means. The studies proved that no foreign substance was added to the consecrated host; rather, part of the host took the form of heart muscle of a person near death. This kind of phenomenon is inexplicable by the natural sciences.

The Miracle of Lanciano, 750 AD 

  • The fame of this miracle spread throughout the world over the centuries, but in the 20th century, a time when perhaps we needed it most, even more was revealed. In 1970, Pope Paul VI commissioned a series of studies of the miraculous host of Lanciano. Drs. Ruggero Bertelli and Odoardo Linoli, both doctors of human anatomy and histology, performed separate investigations, which corroborated each other’s findings. Further studies were taken up by the World Health Organization in 1973 and again by Dr. Bertelli in 1981, both of which confirmed the findings and discovered even more information.
  • So what did these studies find? The results are truly stunning:
  • The flesh has the same structure as heart tissue (myocardium) and the membrane of tissue lining cardiac cavities (endocardium). The flesh was also discovered as being fresh, as opposed to 1,200 years old, with no trace of preservatives.
  • The globules of blood were also of human origin and determined to be of type AB. Further, while blood taken from a cadaver would deteriorate quickly, these samples continued to maintain the same properties of fresh blood.

The Most Remarkable Miracle of the Middle Ages

  • The Miracles in the Age of Science
  • Until the 1990s, Lanciano was the only proven case of the Eucharist turning into human flesh. Other cases have not been tested with modern scientific equipment, nor have the many dozens of bloodstains on corporals and chalices that have been preserved and are venerated as having come from bleeding hosts. But in 1992, the miracles started happening again.
  • 1992 and 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina: In 1992, consecrated particles left on the corporal were put into water to dissolve and locked in the tabernacle, as the Church prescribes for disposing of consecrated hosts. One week later, they had changed into a red substance. Then again in 1996 after a consecrated host fell to the ground and was also put in water to dissolve, it was found a few days later to have turned into a bloody substance. Both cases were sent to be tested by the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who was none other than our future Pope Francis.
  • 2006, Tixtla, Mexico: During a retreat, a religious sister who was distributing Communion looked down and noticed that one of the Hosts had begun to bleed and transform.
  • 2008, Sokolka, Poland: A consecrated Host fell to the ground during Communion and was put in water and locked in a tabernacle to dissolve. A week later, most of the Host was dissolved except for a red “clot” that remained.
  • 2013, Legnica, Poland: A consecrated Host fell and was put in water and locked in a tabernacle. Two weeks later a red spot covered one-fifth of the undissolved Host.
  • Startling Scientific Results
  • Each of these occurrences received intensive study with highly advanced technology. In several cases, doctors did not know the source of the material. And yet, in all the cases, the same results were found, and are consistent with the results of Lanciano, providing even more details due to more advanced science:
  • The blood is human, AB blood type; human DNA was found; white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, and mycrophages were present, indicating fresh blood; in the Tixtla miracle, the blood clearly emanated from within, because the blood on the surface had begun to coagulate but the interior blood was still fresh, as with a bleeding wound
  • The flesh is human myocardium tissue of the left ventricle of an inflamed heart; in the miracles from Argentina and Poland, there was evidence of trauma from the presence of thrombi, indicating repeated lack of oxygen; lesions present showed rapid cardiac spasms typical in the final phases of death
  • In the Sokolka miracle, the remaining host is tightly interconnected with the fibers of human tissue, penetrating each other inseparably – as if the bread were transforming into flesh. “Even NASA scientists, who have at their disposal the most modern analytical techniques, would not be able to artificially recreate such a thing,” affirmed Dr. Sobaniec-Lotowska, one of the examining experts.
  • Dr. Frederick Zugibe, a forensic doctor at Columbia University who examined the Argentinian miracle, did not know the source of the sample and told the doctor who brought it to him, “If white blood cells were present (in the heart tissue), it is because at the moment you brought me the sample, it was pulsating.” When he learned the source of the sample, he was shocked and deeply moved.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

St. Zelie Martin an amazing mother and saint

Most of what I write about (abortion) is depressing. My protection against this evil is to turn to Jesus, Mary, and the saints. One of the best places I can do this (apart from Mass, the Rosary and the Sacraments) is to turn to the Discerning Hearts podcast. Kris McGregor is the host. She has literally a ton of good spiritual content from interviews with book authors, to conferences on saints, to audio books, to novenas, to...you name it.

The content is a healing salve for the soul. I download the episodes to my phone, and can listen to them off-line when I am walking or driving, or doing housework, etc.

Two of my favourite conferences are with Fr. Timothy Gallagher on St. Therese's sister Leonie Martin and Therese's parents St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin (which I am listening to now). Their life was not easy: Leonie's life was very difficult, the deaths of four of Zelie's and Louis' young children, breast cancer, war, etc. So much suffering but also so much joy.

I have read the Story of a Soul by St. Therese. But I find Therese hard to relate to--a great saint to be sure but honestly I just don't really get her. So listening to the letters from her mother (which there are many) about her family (and the commentary) I have found to be absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and hopeful.

If you need a break from the woke world we now live in, check our Discerning Hearts and pick a gem from their basket of precious jewels, of which there are many.

St. Zelie and St. Louis

Servant of God Leonie Martin

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

There is no problem that cannot be solved by the Rosary

One of the most beautiful spiritual books I have ever come across is this one IN SINU JESU. The book is written by an anonymous Benedictine monk.

From the description of the book:

"In 2007, Our Lord and Our Lady began to speak to the heart of a monk in the silence of adoration. He was prompted to write down what he received, and thus was born In Sinu Jesu, whose pages shine with an intense luminosity and heart-warming fervor that speak directly to the inner and outer needs of our time with a unique power to console and challenge."

Here is the entry from Tuesday, December 2, 2014 on the Rosary. This is a private revelation where Jesus is speaking to the monk:

"There is no problem or difficulty that cannot be solved or resolved by faithful persevering recourse to My Mother's most holy Rosary. The Rosary is My Mother's gift to the poor and to the simple, to the little ones who alone are capable of hearing the Gospel in all its purity and of responding to it with a generous heart. It is to such as these - the childlike and the weak, the poor and the trusting - that the Rosary is given. It is to such as these that the Rosary belongs.

There are no sufferings that cannot be borne peacefully, so long as a soul is praying the Rosary. Through the Rosary, all the grace and power of My mysteries passes through My Mother's Immaculate Heart into the hearts of the little ones who invoke her, repeating the angel's "Ave" over and over again. There are illnesses that can be cured through the Rosary. There are clouds of darkness and confusion that only the Rosary can disperse, and this because it is My Mother's favourite prayer, a prayer that originated in the heights of heaven and was carried to earth by My Archangel, a prayer echoed and amplified in the Church through the ages, a prayer loved by all My saints, a prayer of disarming power and of immense depth.

There are those who find the Rosary difficult. The difficulty lies not in the Rosary but in the complexity of those who struggle to enter into its simplicity. Invite souls to the prayer of the Rosary; through it I will heal the sick of mind and body, through it I will give peace where there is conflict, through it I will make great saints out of great sinners, through it I will sanctify My priests, give joy to My consecrated ones, and raise up new vocations in abundance.

Listen, then, to My Mother's plea in so many places. Listen to her, take her plea to heart, pray her Rosary and, for you, as for her, My Father will do wondrous things."

This is the hopeful message Canada and the world needs right now. We need to say so many Rosaries.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Victoria: a change from snow and %&*$#@

I have my marching orders from Maureen:

"I'm sick of the Ottawa snow and %&*$#@. A change would be nice (pictures of flowers)".

The flowers still aren't blooming, but here are a few pics to cheer you up.

Bulbous trees.

This looks like a picnic table stuck to a tree. Maybe a picnic table for birds?

Funny signs.

Pretty houses.

Big trees.

And I did find flowers. Outside our hosts' front door.

Our first beer. Yum.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I was very happy to see actual evidence of the true meaning of Christmas this year. The Holy Family and the birth of Jesus. In front of people's houses. We were in Milton, Ontario. What a surprise and blessing it was. I don't think I've ever seen this in Ottawa (except for churches), or in any other place. Amazing.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Is Justin Trudeau biased against Christianity?

Is Justin Trudeau biased against Christianity? As Rex Murphy's pointed out today in the National Post, that there have been 48 counts of vandalism and burnings of Christian churches in Canada. 

"Needless to say, the prime minister will be present at both [the Jewish and Muslim summits]. I don’t suppose anyone will draw objections to such meetings, or their intention of removing, or at least reducing, discrimination against either of these two religions.
What I find rather inexplicable is that while our federal government is rightly attending to acts of discrimination targeting Jewish and Muslim worshippers, there is, as far as can be determined, no scheduled summit dealing with the current wave of destructive hostility directed at Christian worshippers.
With no aspersions whatsoever on the two faith summits dealing with prejudice against the Jewish and Muslim faiths, I suggest there is justification for a third one on the current wave of attacks against Christian churches, and how to deal with the affronts to their parishioners."

Rex references the True North, who has published a map of all of the now 48 church burnings, and vandalisms done to churches:

The very least Justin Trudeau can do is to treat all religions equally. Why isn't he?

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The role of Indian Affairs, the Spanish flu and tuberculosis in the burial of Aboriginal children

Below are extracts from a report from Dr. Scott Hamilton, Dept. of Anthropology, Lakehead University Thunder Bay, Ontario entitled 'Where are the Children buried'? I've included original footnotes within the texts themselves. Emphasis added.

It is clear that communicable diseases were a primary cause of poor health and death for many Aboriginal people during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Some children might have contracted disease at home prior to attending school, but others were likely infected within crowded, often unsanitary, and poorly constructed residential schools. It is also likely that significant numbers of chronically ill children died within a few years after school discharge.

In his 1906 annual report, Dr. Peter Bryce, the chief medical officer for Indian Affairs,  outlined the extent of this Aboriginal health crisis, and noted that “the Indian population of Canada has a mortality rate of more than double that of the whole population, and in some provinces more than three times.” Tuberculosis was the prevalent cause of death. He described a cycle of disease in which infants and children were infected at home and sent to residential schools, where they infected other children.

The children infected in the schools were “sent home when too ill to remain at school, or because of being a danger to the other scholars, and have conveyed the disease to houses previously free.” (Canada, Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs, 1906, 274–275.)

Dr. Bryce again raised the issue of tuberculosis in the schools in 1909. In that year, he and Lafferty undertook a detailed examination of all 243 students at seven schools in southern Alberta. Bryce prepared a report of their work, and concluded that there was a “marked” presence of tuberculosis among all age groups. In some schools, “there was not a child that showed a normal temperature.” He noted that, although they were not included in his study, four boys recently discharged from the High River, Alberta, school were in an “advanced state of the illness.” And, “in no single instance in any school where a young child was found awaiting admission, did it not show signs of tuberculosis.”

Bryce also provided a national context for the school’s death rates. Using the statistics for the Shingkwauk Home in Ontario, the Sarcee school in Alberta, and the Cranbrook school in British Columbia for the period from 1892 to 1908, he calculated an annual death rate, from all causes, of 8,000 deaths per 100,000. (He included deaths at school and “soon after leaving” in making this calculation.) By comparison, according to Bryce, the 1901 Canadian census showed a death rate, from all causes, for those between five and fourteen years of age, of an equivalent of 430 per 100,000. (Library and Archives Canada, RG10, volume 3957, file 140754-1, P. H. Bryce to F. Pedley, 5 November 1909.) TRC statistical research reported elsewhere demonstrates that this pattern of much higher death rates compared to children within the general Canadian population persisted as late as 1945. Thereafter, the death rate among Aboriginal children attending residential schools declined to levels more consistent with the general population.

While the appalling death rates within the Residential Schools to the middle of the 20th Century far exceeded that among non-Aboriginal Canadians, it must be considered in the context of health care and medical knowledge in early Canada. Many of the early residential schools were established within the first 50 years of Canadian Confederation, at a time of rapid economic development and large-scale immigration into regions with large Aboriginal populations. The more frequent contact resulted in rapid spread of disease to Indigenous populations with limited resistance to infectious disease.

Provincial and municipal governments were either not yet established or were in their infancy, and public health and cemetery regulations were comparatively undeveloped.

Given the lack of regulation at the time, it appears that most residential school graveyards were established informally, and have left little in the way of formal documentation. This also likely contributed to a suspected under-reporting of mortality in the schools, particularly in late 19th Century. This would have been particularly the case when school staff faced emergency situations during disease outbreaks that resulted in multiple deaths. In such circumstances, they may have been caring for many sick people with insufficient medical assistance, and with little help in preparing and burying those who died. It is also clear that insufficient consideration was made for the continuing care of graveyards upon closure of the Indian Residential Schools. Uncertainty over responsibility for closed schools and cemeteries (i.e. the churches that operated the facilities, or the federal government who financed and administered the system) remains an important issue. That is, what entity should accept responsibility for the documentation, ongoing maintenance, protection, and commemoration of IRS cemeteries?


The magnitude of crisis deriving from an epidemic sweeping through the schools is almost unimaginable from a 21st Century perspective. Several of the schools were overwhelmed by the 1918–19 influenza pandemic. In 1918 all but two of the children and all of the staff contracted influenza at the Fort St. James, British Columbia, school and surrounding community. In the end seventy-eight people, including students, died.

Initially, Father Joseph Allard, who served as the school principal conducted funeral services at the mission cemetery. But, as he wrote in his diary, “The others were brought in two or three at a time, but I could not go to the graveyard with all of them. In fact, several bodies were piled up in an empty cabin because there was no grave ready. A large common grave was dug for them.(Father Allard’s diary quoted in Cronin, Cross in the Wilderness, 219.)  Tragically, the 1918-19 influenza epidemic was only one of many that repeatedly swept through residential schools at various times during their history, likely contributing to the wild fluctuations in annual mortality.


Since the early residential schools operated at a time of high death rates, and were associated with missions located close to reserves, the mission cemeteries likely contain both the bodies of local school children and other community members. Given the rather limited transportation capacity of early Canada, it would have been difficult and expensive to return deceased non-local students to their home communities. Instead, they too were likely buried in the school/mission cemeteries. As discussed below, this is certainly consistent with expectations of the Department of Indian Affairs of the time.


As in so many other aspects of the Canadian residential school system, the federal government appears to have been slow to develop a formal policy governing the burial of students who died at the schools. Instead, the burial of deceased students appears to be rather ad hoc, and varied from school to school. The Department of Indian Affairs seems to have expected the churches to cover funeral costs, and to bury students in mission or residential school cemeteries. The earliest government policy directive identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission dates from 1958, fully 75 years after the rapid expansion of the residential school system. It states that the department was prepared to authorize only minimum funeral expenditures, and would only pay for transporting students to their home reserves if the cost of transportation was less than the cost of burying the student where they died. This is consistent with practice throughout the system’s history; namely to keep burial costs low and oppose sending the bodies of deceased students back to their home community.

Since the schools were virtually all church-run, Christian burial was the norm. Such burials were likely within cemeteries on school grounds, or at a nearby church mission. These cemeteries likely served all members of the denomination, including the missionaries themselves. For example, the cemetery at the Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Mission (near Mission, BC), was intended originally for priests and nuns from the mission as well students from the residential school. Three Oblate bishops were buried there along with settlers, their descendants, and residential students. (Fraser River Heritage Park, The OMI Cemetery, http://www.heritageparkmission.ca/omicemetery.htmlaccessed 4 November 2014.)

When the Battleford school in closed in 1914, Principal E. Matheson reminded Indian Affairs that there was a school cemetery that contained the bodies of seventy to eighty individuals, most of who were former students. He worried that unless the government took steps to care for the cemetery it would be overrun by stray cattle. (Wasylow, “History of Battleford Industrial School for Indians,” 268.) Matheson had good reason for wishing to see the cemetery maintained: several of his family members were also buried there. (TRC, CAR, Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon, List of Burials in Battleford Industrial School Graveyard, no date. [24b-c000001-list_of_burials_in_Battleford_Industrial_School_graveyard_1895-1914.]) These concerns proved prophetic since the location of this cemetery is not recorded in the available documentation, nor does it appear in an internet search of Battleford cemeteries. It may be indicated by a rectangular area with surface modifications located to the southwest of the actual school grounds as this locality is within the land formerly owned by the Residential School, and likely was located immediately west of the historically reported IRS stable.

The rationale guiding standard practice when addressing IRS student deaths is evident in Principal J.F. Woodsworth’s correspondence regarding the aftermath of the 1918 influenza epidemic that struck the Red Deer (Alberta) IRS. Apparently all the students and many of the staff came down with influenza, with five students dying. Four died at the school, while a fifth died while running away. That boy’s body was returned to his home community, the Saddle Lake Reserve, perhaps because of the extraordinary circumstances experienced at the school the boy had fled.

"Everyone was so sick that it was impossible for us to bury the dead. There was no one here to dig graves in our own school cemetry [sic]. I thought the best thing to do was to have the undertaker from Red Deer take charge of and bury the bodies. This was done, and they now lie buried in Red Deer. The charges for this extra accommodation amount to about $30.00 a child; that is for the four who died here. In view of the emergency and the totally unexpected nature of the case I shall be glad if the Department will bear part of this expense. I believe the total undertaker bill is $130.00. I instructed the undertaker to be as careful as possible in his charges, so he gave them a burial as near as possible to that of a pauper. They are buried two in a grave." (TRC, NRA, Library and Archives Canada, RG10, volume 3921, file 116,818-1B, J.F. Woodsworth to Secretary, Indian Affairs, 25 November 1918. [EDM-000956])

Because of incapacity of school staff to bury the children within the school cemetery, the burial costs in the Red Deer municipal cemetery were judged to be “unavoidable”, and Indian Affairs Deputy Minister Duncan Campbell Scott agreed to reimburse the school for the costs. (TRC, NRA, Library and Archives Canada, RG10, Vol. 3921, File 116, 818-1B, Reel C-10162, Duncan Campbell Scott to J.F. Woodsworth, 5 December 1918. [EDM-000957]) While Scott made no reference to an existing policy, the letter demonstrates that under normal circumstances the schools were expected to cover the burial costs of students who died at school. The most cost-effective way of doing that would be to undertake burial in a cemetery on school grounds. Indian Affairs would only pay for a child’s burial under unusual circumstances, and if it paid, it expected the costs to be kept as low as possible. In this the department conformed to the general practice of the period i n the treatment of those who died in institutions. It was not uncommon for hospitals to have cemeteries into which indigent patients were buried, while workhouses for the poor also had cemeteries. Many Canadians ended up in unmarked paupers’ graves. (For examples of a pauper’s cemetery at a workhouse in Canada, see: Wellington County, House of Industry Cemetery, http://www.wellington.ca/en/discover/cemeteryhoi.asp#Follow%20link%20to%20the%20House%20of%20Industry%20Cemetery%20page, accessed 5 November 2014 and Canada’s Historic Places, York County Municipal Home Cemetery, http://www.lieuxpatrimoniaux.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=13125, accessed 5 November 2014. For an example of a cemetery with a special section for paupers, see: Canada’s Historic Places, Beechwood Cemetery National Historic Site of Canada http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=1210, accessed 5 November 2014. For an example of a hospital with an attached pauper’s cemetery, see: Bourget, “Chapels of Rest and Cemeteries,”)

The Department of Indian Affairs was universally reluctant to send deceased students home for burial. In her memoirs, Eleanor Brass recalled how the body of a boy, who hung himself at the File Hills (Saskatchewan) school in the early twentieth century, was buried on the Peepeekisis Reserve even though his parents lived on the Carlyle Reserve (Brass, I Walk in Two Worlds, 26.). In 1913 two girls, Anna Lahache from Kahnawake and Jennie Robertson from Garden River, drowned while on a picnic expedition at the Spanish, Ontario school. (Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Volume 6217, file 471-1, part 1, N. Dugas to Dear Sir, 25 August 1913. [Story no 1.1.jpg]) School officials buried Jennie at the school after being unable to reach her mother within four days. (Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Volume 6217, file 471-1, part 1, N. Dugas to Secretary, Indian Affairs, 2 September 1913. [Story no 1.1.6.jpg]) Anna’s body was not recovered until a week after the drowning. While Anna’s mother requested that her body be returned home for burial, it was decided that it was too badly decomposed and the cost too high. (Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Volume 6217, file 471-1, part 1, N/ Dugas to J.D. McLean, 28 August 1913. [Story no 1.1.7.jpg]) In 1938 a mother requested that the body of her son, who was dying of tubercular meningitis at the Spanish school, be sent to her in Cornwall, Ontario, for burial upon his death. (Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Volume 6219, file 471-13, part 2, J. Howitt to the Secretary, Indian Affairs 20 August 1938. [Story no. 2.1.jpg]) The response from Indian Affairs to the school was:

"I have to point out that it is not the practice of the Department to send bodies of Indians by rail excepting under very exceptional circumstances. Bodies so shipped have to be properly prepared by the undertakers for transshipments under the laws of the province, and the expense of a long journey such as this would be, would entail an expenditure which the Department does not feel warranted in authorizing." (Library and Archives Canada, RG 10, Volume 6219, file 471-13, part 2, R.A. Hoey to Howitt, 23 August 1938. Story no. [2.2.jpg])

The boy’s body was buried at Spanish. (Shanahan, The Jesuit Residential School at Spanish, 96.)

Not all requests were rejected. Clara Tizya, who grew up in Rampart House near Old  Crow in northwestern Yukon, recalled “in the early 1920’s a girl had died at Carcross Indian Residential School and when they sent the body back, there were many rumours about the children receiving bad treatment and this scared the parents or gave them an excuse for not sending their children to school. And so for the next 25 years, no children were sent out to the Carcross Indian Residential School.” (Tyza, “Comment,” 103–104.)

As noted earlier, the earliest currently known Indian Affairs policy document that deals with the burial issue and the cost of shipping bodies dates from 1958. The Social Welfare section of the Indian Affairs field manual for that year provides Indian Affairs staff with direction on the burial of “destitute Indians.” This general policy seems to have been also applied to the death of children while in the care of an Indian Residential School. Burial costs were only to be covered by Indian Affairs when they could not “be met from the estate of the deceased.” There was no fixed rate of payment: instead “The amount payable by the local municipality for the burial of destitute non-Indians is the maximum generally allowed.” Those who died away from their home reserve were to be buried where they died. “Ordinarily the body will be returned to the reserve for burial only when transportation, embalming costs and all other expenses are borne by next of kin. Transportation may be authorized, however, in cases where the cost of burial on the reserve is sufficiently low to make transportation economically advantageous. (TRC, NRA, DIAND Library Main, JL103 C377, 1958, Indian Affairs Branch Field Manual, “Chapter 13 Social Welfare,” Section 13.14. [120.08514])

The reluctance to pay the cost of sending bodies home continued into the 1960s.


In sum, it is clear that throughout much of the history of the Indian Residential Schools, financially driven procedural barriers (if not formal policy) prevented the return of deceased students to their families for burial. Indeed, the return of deceased children likely only occurred in extraordinary circumstances, and most were buried within school cemeteries, in nearby mission, municipal or reserve cemeteries, or at cemeteries used for burial of destitute hospital patients.

Dr. Hamilton's report is well worth reading in its entirety.

More information here from Isabelle and Ward O'Connor.