The beauty and mystery of the incarnation is that Christ was at once fully man and fully divine. During his earthly ministry, Christ performed numerous miracles, demonstrating that he was truly the Son of God. Today, we highlight places in Basilica where the miracles of Christ are depicted, reflecting on the meaning of these miraculous events.
The Miracle of the Wedding at Cana
The Wedding at Cana was the first of Jesus’ miracles, demonstrating his power as God and inspiring the disciples in their belief. According to John 2:3, 7-11:
When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
This miracle is portrayed in numerous places in the Basilica, including a mosaic in the Our Lady’s Oratory (pictured left), a mosaic in the Rosary Walk and Garden, the Incarnation Dome, and the Our Lady of Korea at Cana tympanum in the east narthex.
Jesus by the Sea
The stained-glass entrance to the Crypt Church Sacristy, Jesus Teaching by the Sea, depicts the Gospel story of Mark in which Jesus, standing in a boat, taught the faithful gathered on the lakeshore. There, Jesus told the parables of the sower, the mustard seed, among others. After the crowd dispersed, he went out with the disciples in the boat. As a storm rocked the vessel, Jesus slept until the disciples woke him and he calmed the seas. Mark 4:37-41 relates:
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
Miracles at Bethesda
While in Bethesda, Jesus performed healing miracles of the blind and lame, as related in John 5:2-9:
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep [Gate] a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
The Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel features two rondels on the back wall which illustrate Jesus healing the blind and the lame at the Pool of Bethesda, and Jesus restoring life to the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5: 21-23;35-43).
The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is told in Luke 9: 12-17:
As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of [about] fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
This miracle is portrayed in the dome of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (pictured right), as well as a window in the East Apse, alongside its Old Testament parallel, the blessing of bread and wine by Melchizedek, a priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18).
Jesus Heals the Paralytic
The miracle of Christ healing the paralytic is described in Matthew 9: 1-7:
He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.
In the west façade, this miracle is reflected in the mosaic Christ Healing the Paralytic, pictured above.