Moure, it's authentic!
A truly instructive visit

«In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved.»

The Church at Moure. Visited by Brother Gerard and Brother Michael, 14 and 15 November 1998.

I do not know whether the parish of Moure is destined to become famous, but if you search for it on the map, you will be surprised to find the name of this village marked three times both to the north and south of Braga, and if you are looking out for it while driving, you will have to read the road directions with great care, for the sign to Moure hardly leaps out at you as you navigate the many bends on the road between Barcelos and Famalicao. The road then climbs, steep and narrow, between two low walls. Behind them the climbing vines have already shed their leaves and the confined meadows of the mountain country can be glimpsed. Higher up, there are forests of fir and eucalyptus. Houses are thinly scattered over the hill. Outcrops of rock appear everywhere. Soon, on the flank of the hill, can be seen the beautiful church of Moure with its two graceful adjoining naves.

The road then turns into a street, widening slightly as it passes the church, and we wonder which of the neighbouring houses is the presbytery, since each of them is decked with the Azulejos, those terracotta tiles painted in honour of the Most Blessed Virgin, the Last Supper and our Catholic mysteries.

Ten or fifteen paces away, on the façade of the church, a commemorative plaque honours the memory of Father Antonio Miranda, who extended his church by adding a second nave. But the church is closed. Consternation : might the authorities have ordered it closed? But no, we have been noticed by a lady living nearby who looks after the keys. She kindly unlocks the side door for us.

Moure : the "Eucharistic throne".

And inside it is a delight : all the heavenly joy of our baroque period, but with the simplicity, even more loveable still, of a poor country church. White and gold predominate in the midst of flowers, the white and gold of the high altar and its Eucharistic "throne" – the "thabor" to use the liturgical expression – raised high above the altar. From it there descend several terraced levels, which are decked out in cascades of flowers during the principal feast days. This Eucharistic "throne" is a tradition in many Portuguese parishes – we also noticed it at the Carmel of Coimbra – and a tradition of the Counter-Reformation, intended to honour the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in opposition to the denial of the Protestants.

Our kind lady kneels and continues to pray while we get up and discover at the entrance of the choir a glass memorial plate, about 60 by 40 cm, dedicated to Father Antonio Miranda, itself also very simple and very expressive. Below an image of the Holy Face bruised and crowned with thorns are the dates of his birth and death : born 12 May 1917, died 5 May 1998, and on each side of the Holy Face are the dates 18 May 1996 and 18 May 1998. On the opposite wall, under glass and contained in a few easily read lines, is a very sober account of the apparition.

We are thus greatly surprised to see that events, which we had believed to be suppressed and banned from memory, are held in honour and officially celebrated as the glory of Father Antonio Miranda’s whole life.

Our parishioner confesses to us, with visible regret, that she was not around on 18 May 1996, although she turned up without fail in the following years!

We also learn that the current parish priest does not reside in the parish, but lives in community with two other priests who minister to the neighbouring parishes. Finally, the Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 10am and we agree to be there tomorrow. It is then that we will find the parish priest and his flock, and will be able to pursue our enquiry.

We had already learned that every 18th of the month the parish commemorates the grace received in May by an hour of adoration. Our lady guide also warns us that the parish priest is very talkative and that the first morning Mass in a nearby parish often extends beyond 10am!

At the end of May 1996, the parish priest, Father Antonio Duarte Miranda, in agreement with the parish council and following the events of 18 May, expressed his wish to institute the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the 18th of each month, in which the various parish groups would take part. The whole parish showed its enthusiasm, heart and mind, for this initiative. The hour was fixed for 20:30 in the winter and 21:30 in the summer.

We express our thanks and admiration to all those who, coming from nearby or far, display their sacrifice and devotion by joining in our adoration, thereby giving us a witness and an example that encourages us to proclaim over and over again in thanksgiving: «Praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ.»

May Our Lord Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, grant us strength for our journey, make His light shine out on those who have lost their way, give health to our sick, and open Heaven to all those who are most dear to us.

Extract from the parish bulletin of September 1998.

At the stroke of 10 the next day, there were in fact only a few people in the church. This time we enter by the back of the church and we are able to admire – besides the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and that of Saint Thérèse of the Infant Jesus – a sculptured group representing Jesus crowned with thorns and bearing His cross, ascending Calvary with the Most Blessed Virgin at His side. I noticed to my surprise, being an ignorant Frenchman, that the statues were clothed, whereas Brother Michael was aware that this is the tradition here, as it is in Spain. The statues are not placed on a simple console, but on veritable balconies of drapery, balconies of heaven, and the windows themselves have their own embroidered curtains and are surmounted by a golden curtain band. Herein visibly lie the great riches and the honour of a parish. Here Our Lord lives in the most beautiful house in the village, untiringly maintained and decked out.

The time passes. Families enter at first in trickles and then in one single large surge, the sign that the "voluble parish priest" has arrived.


The choir, representing all age groups, takes its place on the altar steps. They will remain standing throughout the entirety of the Mass. Up till then, no one had spoken in the church. All those who had entered early had been praying, and praying on their knees. But as soon as the Mass started, the profound spirit of the parishioners is revealed : they display a perfect unity as they take part in the liturgy and sing their beautiful nostalgic Portuguese hymns by heart. Even their appearance witnesses to this unity, their dress being modest but always dignified. Everyone kneels at the consecration and receives communion on the tongue. Even strange gestures like "the sign of peace" are carried out with simplicity, and the reading at the ambo is done without ostentation. A young girl went up to do the second reading, her dress perhaps a little too meticulously arranged, but I noticed that it was to conceal an infirmity, her right hand being disabled.


Brother Michael followed the celebrant into the sacristy. In fact, he was not the parish priest, the "chatty parish priest", but Father Aurelio Soares, the very person who earlier this year had taken over from Father Antonio Miranda for the "Lausperene" after the latter had died.

A few minutes later I was astonished to see both of them in discussion like old friends, and even more astonished to learn that Father Aurelio was an ardent defender of the authenticity of the miracle. «Father Antonio Miranda died of grief, he told us, following the persecutions directed against him after the miracle of the Lausperene.» Father Aurelio himself handed us the parish bulletin for September; its main article, written by himself, summarised the whole of our conversation. It needs only to be quoted:

At Moure (Barcelos)
Marvellous manifestation

During the Lausperene of 18-19 May 1996 a marvellous prodigy took place. When the monstrance was placed on the Eucharistic "throne", one was immediately able to see a human bust, similar to representations of the Ecce Homo or to that of Christ of the Azores.

Everyone saw it, but nobody spoke about it… even amongst ourselves, not even at home among one’s family. Everyone believed that it was a private personal vision. «We believe in the Real Presence, they said to themselves, we have no need to see in order to believe.» It seemed to us that it was our imagination that made us see, and so we did not speak about it… we continued our lives peacefully. As for the parish priest, he attributed the vision to his state of fatigue… and returned home, anxious about his health! It was a Saturday… where could he find a doctor to consult?

He was still at table when someone telephoned, begging him to come to the church where something extraordinary was happening. He felt relieved. Could it be that he was not the only one seeing things? So it was no longer necessary to search out a doctor! Everyone could see, as he could, the shadow of a human bust.

Night and day, the apparition remained without change on the Eucharistic "throne" during the twenty-four hours of the Lausperene adoration.

Astonishingly the professional photographers of the parish, who always had a camera to hand or in their car, did not think to take a single photograph or video recording!

The parish priest kept quiet and did not even communicate the facts to Braga. It was only later, after the children had begun to spread the news in the village schools and after several people and certain priests had insisted, that the parish priest communicated the facts to the archdiocesan offices, so that the prodigy might be examined.

The designated commission worked for a whole year without reaching a conclusion. Now, in May of the following year, 1997, after the prodigy had been repeated, the commission came on site to study the circumstances in which the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and to give their opinion. But this was done in a slapdash and superficial manner, late in the night, after the Lausperene had finished.

The unverified, precipitate, misguided and prejudiced reply of a lady who described herself as a parapsychologist – a reply which pre-empted the opinion of the commission of which she was a member – only served to complicate things and to make them more confused and polemical, instead of addressing the intelligence of the faithful in a scientific way. It explained nothing and sought only to uncover sensationalism.

The commission subsequently gave its opinion, as did the Archbishop, who, with good sense and intelligence, whilst not contradicting the study presented by the commission, nevertheless left the door open to another more convincing explanation, one that was more in accord with reality.

He recalled something that remains inexplicable, that is the fact that up to 1996 no one had ever seen anything unusual, not even the slightest shadow, and that these extraordinary things were only happening now, although the monstrance is 236 years old and has not been modified or restored. One can read the following inscription on it : "Manuel Lopes Loureiro donated this in the year 1762; cost : 1824 gold reis."

It is true that, along with other restoration work to the church, the municipal Chamber of Barcelos had carried out some electrical rewiring around the Eucharistic "throne" where the monstrance is set during the Lausperene each 18 May. The church, once completely renovated, was inaugurated on 17 October 1993, but it was not until three years later that the apparition took place, in 1996. The commission’s explanation therefore is not convincing. The parish priest remained perplexed…

Meanwhile, in the years 97-98 up to the latest Lausperene in May 1998, an identical phenomenon occurred in the nearby parishes of Bastuço Santo Estêvao and Bastuço San Joao on the same day, at the same hour, and in the same circumstances. Likewise at Sequiade, Couto, and Carreira, according to newspaper reports, and lastly at the neighbouring parish of Fonte Coberta also.

Father Antonio Miranda then became ill and died on 5 May 1998, a few days before the start of the Lausperene on 18-19 May. The priest who took over from him [Father Aurelio himself, author of this article] acted on that day just as he had been used to for forty years in his own parishes. He acted neither for nor against the apparition.

At the precise moment when the monstrance was placed on the Eucharistic "throne", to the wonder of a fully packed church, once again a human bust became visible, just as in the two previous years. For twenty-four hours, both night and day, everyone could see it and photograph it at their leisure, including the media who took photographs without hindrance.

September 1998, Father Aurelio Soares

Father Aurelio was now writing a response to the campaign waged by the so-called lady doctor, who had in fact decided, without waiting for any enquiry, to "demystify Moure", and even had her own internet site for the purpose!

What a joy for us to be able to say that we had misjudged the sentiments of this good parish priest when we spoke about him in the CRC for last June, p. 8. And not only him, but Father Olavo Teixeira and the current young parish priest of Moure, Father Miguel, also share the same sentiments.


The parishioners respectfully allowed us to carry on our conversation, but they were nevertheless in a hurry to see their pastor join them for the traditional coffee which they offer him after Mass with great affection. We let him go therefore, but we still wished to question the "Eucharistic minister" whose title intrigued us and whom we had seen during the Mass clothed in a dalmatic and distributing Communion with great dignity and respect. An admirable face of calm authority, which our conversation will only serve to confirm

When we asked him to repeat the account of the first appearance of Our Lord in 1996, he told us that it was all in Father Leite’s book, Prodigio Eucaristico em Moure, and that not one word of it needed changing. We then set before him the article from the June CRC with its front page photograph and, side by side, the image of a memento published «com licença da Autoridade Eclesiastica» in 1996 by Father Antonio Miranda, representing the same sketch of the Holy Face (above, p. 3) ,which we had seen in the church on the memorial to the holy parish priest.

And we asked him which corresponded more closely to reality. His unhesitating reply was that it was the image published by the CRC, even though the outline was more distinct in the apparition. Clearly he was not seeking to exaggerate the facts.

He even added: «What we saw suggested rather than forced one to see the image of Jesus crowned with thorns.» He recognised his son in the photograph of the philosophy students from Braga, proof that not all of them were hostile.

When we mentioned the explanation of a shadow being cast, his response was immediate: «But the event was repeated elsewhere and with other monstrances.» And he referred to the neighbouring parishes, without any jealousy moreover, but as though to say that Moure did not deserve this grace any more than the other parishes faithfully practising the "Lausperene", and that Our Lord had no wish to distinguish this parish from the others.


It remained to find out what the Archbishop of Braga thought about all this. An initial telephone call put Brother Michael in contact with the episcopal vicar’s secretary, who assured him: «Moure? But there is nothing at Moure!» And when Brother Michael insisted: «A marvel maybe, but not a miracle…»

It was precisely this judgement, already spelt out by Father Aurelio Soares, that we had been misled into thinking was his own. Knowing now Father Soares’ total conviction about the supernatural character of this "marvel", we consider that from his lips it indicated no more than prudence and a just reserve : he did not wish to pre-empt the judgement of the Archbishop of Braga. But today and from the lips of an archdiocesan secretary, how could one not see in this reply the specious affirmation of a modernist, clumsily concealing his systematic disbelief.


When Lisieux was covered in a mantle of snow on the day Saint Thérèse received the habit, 10 January 1889, it was a "marvel", appearing to Saint Thérèse and her sisters as Jesus’ reply to her vow, whereas the inhabitants of Lisieux experienced little astonishment : «Look! It’s snowing! One would never have believed it!» But in this case there is something more than a private grace : everyone saw and everyone believed. It was not a matter of "believing that they had seen". Rather they saw this "marvel" and they believed what their parish priest told them: «It is Our Lord demanding reparation.» So there was both a sign and a signification, which is the characteristic of miracles.

What strikes one particularly about the witnesses is the absolute certitude of their statements, their straightforward account of the marvellous event, which none of them wish to exaggerate. As Lucy of Fatima said to her mother: «Mama, how could I say that I have not seen, because I have seen!» And what they saw, what they recognised, they spoke about. «The Holy Face was slightly indistinct. One could not see it sharply, but the head was clearly crowned with thorns. One noticed three discolorations on the Face, one on one side and two on the other, which resembled wounds…» That was it, nothing more, except to search at once for a  supernatural explanation : «Perhaps He showed Himself to be sorrowful because He grieves over the attitude of the Catholics in Moure.» And it is this supernatural explanation that is all important to them : their response is to hold an hour of adoration on the 18th of each month.

An appointment was arranged for the next day, not in Braga but in Fatima where the Archbishop or, if he were detained, his Auxiliary, would be present for a meeting of the episcopal conference of Portugal. That suited us very well, for we wanted to visit Fatima without fail before catching the plane home the next day. As to what this interview would be like, we were wholly undecided.

It was finally the Auxiliary whom we met, at night and in the street, a young man, very affable, whom nothing seemed to surprise, neither the fact that the news of the miracle had carried as far as France, nor our enthusiasm for this extraordinary grace, nor our admiration for the parish of Moure, and not even our religious habit, even though in Portugal priests do not wear the soutane any longer. But his amicable reply consisted of only two sentences: «I also have seen it… and I have seen it repeated! when instead of the Host I have placed a piece of white paper in the lunette… It is an optical illusion, and probably a phenomenon caused by the refraction of  light on the edge of the glass.» And there we had it! Just like that, all very amicable, and "good evening!"

The evening had been very disappointing. We went to console ourselves at the feet of the Most Blessed Virgin at the Capelhina, but our meditation revolved largely around Moure and all the accounts that we had read and heard over the last two years and again today. A single reflection of Father Aurelio would have been sufficient to sweep away the calm "scientific" assurance of the auxiliary bishop : the last time the apparition took place, it was at the high altar during Benediction and not on the Eucharistic "throne", and he himself had been the only one not to notice it, because he was holding the monstrance up for the blessing.


This investigation was, therefore, above all a revelation of hearts for us. The "poor people of Yahweh" had seen and they had believed. But about the others Isaiah said : «He has made their eyes blind, He has hardened their hearts, lest they should perceive with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn back to be healed.» (Is 6.9)

Father Antonio Miranda completed his Memento written in 1996 in the following words: «This prodigy does not contradict any truth of the faith, but on the contrary it confirms the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament and His continued presence, which remains after the Eucharistic celebration. Christ appeared as the prophet Isaiah had described: "Without beauty or majesty, we saw him, with no comeliness to attract our eyes, a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Is 53.3). And He demands reparation. Saint Paul recommended: "Do not grieve the Spirit of God" (Eph 4.30). In these times of disorientation and sin, the Lord asks us to console Him and to ease His pain…»

Such a man spoke as a good Pastor, echoing the thoughts of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


This visit served as an investigation. This investigation will be served by a visit. Our CRC family pilgrimage to Fatima from Sunday 21 to Saturday 27 February, will include a visit to Moure by way of thanksgiving.

Brother Gerard of the Virgin