What is Transubstantiation?

Transubstantiation is a doctrine practiced by the Roman Catholic Church of consuming wine and bread during the Eucharist, where it is believed that the two become respectively the blood and the body of Jesus Christ. According to the Catholic Church, when taken as a sacrifice of the sacrament, wine and bread miraculously change in substance to become the blood and body of Christ. The exact process behind the conversion in the form of bread and wine remains a mystery. The doctrine has been supported by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries since the term was introduced in the 12th century, and has been embraced by other denominations such as Methodists. However, other new Christian denominations, including the Anglican Church and the Lutherans, reject the doctrine.

The Roman Catholic Church

Roman Catholicism is the oldest church in the world and is also the largest in the world. The name of the “Catholic” church derives from the Greek word “Kathalikos” which translates to “universal” and encapsulates the global reach of the Roman Catholic Church. There are more than 1.28 billion followers of the Roman Catholic Church globally. Brazil has the highest Catholic population of any country, with about 0.116 billion Brazilians who are Catholics. The church is led by the Pope, who is based in the Vatican City; the smallest state in the world. The Roman Catholic Church has its origins dating back to the 1st century BC by the Apostles, with St. Peter, a disciple of Jesus Christ recognized as the first Pope of the Catholic Church.


The practice of participating in the Eucharist is almost as old as the Roman Catholic Church itself, whose origins date back to the teachings of the first apostles. The first mention of the Eucharist outside the Bible can be seen in the “Didache” also known as “Teachings of the Apostles” which states the need to be baptized before taking part in the Eucharist. The mentions of the Eucharist can also be seen in other early Christian publications of 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 thcenturies. However, it was not until the beginning of the 12th century that the term “transubstantiation” was introduced. In 1215, the First Lateran Council affirmed that transubstantiation meant that the bread and blood of the Eucharist changed in form “by the power of God” to become the true body and blood of Christ. From the 12th and 13th centuries, the term had widespread use.

The Protestant opposition

The theologians behind the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century discredited the doctrine of transubstantiation of the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther was particularly opposed to transubstantiation and expressed in his numerous publications his differing opinions on the subject. In his publication 1520 “On the Babylonian imprisonment of the Church”, Martin Luther stated that transubstantiation had not existed for hundreds of years since the formation of the Church. Martin Luther’s feelings on transubstantiation were supported by the Church of England, which in 1563 denied the doctrine, stating that “it cannot be demonstrated by a written saint”. In response,

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