Solemnity of Corpus Christi

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—Solemnity

Thursday after Holy Trinity or, where this is not a holy day of obligation, on the following Sunday. In the United States, it is always transferred to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity.

Liturgical Color: White
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Quote:
Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we deem it fitting that at least once a year it be celebrated with greater honor and a solemn commemoration. Indeed we grasp the other things we commemorate with our spirit and our mind, but this does not mean that we obtain their real presence. On the contrary, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, even though in a different form, Jesus Christ is present with us in his own substance. While He was about to ascend into Heaven he said “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). ~From the papal decree instituting the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope Urban IV

Reflection: Of the greatest and most valuable treasures one could obtain in this world, nothing is more precious, more sacred, and more valuable than the Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, our Sovereign and Eucharistic Lord. Millions, billions, or even hundreds of trillions of dollars do not come close to the infinite value and transforming power of the Body and Blood of Christ. No amount of earthly wealth can buy happiness, but the Eucharist bestows it freely. No amount of money can purchase Heaven, but the Eucharist transforms you into a member of the Body of Christ Whom you consume, leading you to Heaven. At the end of our lives, when we stand before the Just Judge, we will realize the transforming power of this Gift. Those who adored Him and received Him faithfully in Communion will be forever grateful they did.

Human dignity demands that we show respect to one another, reverencing the presence of God in each person as a living tabernacle of the Lord. However, we do not bow down before God’s presence in others, nor do we kneel before them in adoration and worship. In this world, the only One Whom we worship and adore, in hidden yet physical form, is our Lord Who is fully present in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not only a fraternal meal we share with one another, it’s a communion with God Himself that unites us with Him. It is that union with God that also unites us with every other person who is united to God through the sharing of the Most Holy Eucharist.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi originated with a mystic named Saint Juliana of Cornillon. She was born near Liège, Belgium around the year 1191. At the age of five, she and her sister were orphaned and entrusted to the care of Augustinian nuns. Within that convent, Juliana grew in her faith, participated in Eucharistic adoration, and frequented Holy Communion. She eventually joined the Augustinians and became a nun herself.

At the age of sixteen, she had a mystical vision during Eucharistic adoration in which she saw the moon with a dark stripe. By divine intuition, she understood that the moon symbolized the Church’s life on earth, and the dark stripe symbolized the absence of a feast that was specifically dedicated to the Body and Blood of Christ. In the convent, she had the same vision several more times but kept it to herself for twenty years.

Around the age of thirty-six, she shared her vision with two friends, one a local hermit and the other a fellow nun. Together, these holy women grew deep in their love of Christ in the Eucharist, especially adoring His hidden presence and receiving Him frequently in Holy Communion. After sharing her vision with the bishop, he reluctantly approved a local annual feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, and some other bishops followed. However, as word spread about Juliana’s visions, her superior and some clergy opposed her. She had to leave the convent, taking refuge in various Cistercian monasteries for ten years.

In 1258, around the age of sixty-seven, Juliana was adoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament in her cell when she died and was taken into the unveiled presence of God in Heaven. Prior to her death, the local Archdeacon in Lièges, Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes, had become familiar with Juliana and believed that her visions were from God and that a universal feast of Corpus Christi was God’s will. In 1261, Archdeacon Jacques Pantaléon was elected pope and took the name Pope Urban IV.

In 1263, a Eucharistic miracle took place in Bolsena, Italy, about ten miles from where Pope Urban was residing in Orvieto in the Papal States, modern-day Italy. A German priest named Father Peter of Prague stopped at the church in Bolsena to offer Mass during a pilgrimage at the tomb of Saint Christina, a fourth-century martyr. By his own admission, he was struggling to believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. During the consecration, the host he was holding began to bleed and flow onto his hands and the linen corporal on the altar. He immediately went to Orvieto to reveal the miracle and his lack of faith to Pope Urban. Pope Urban absolved him and then sent a delegation to investigate the miracle. They brought the corporal back to the cathedral in Orvieto with great solemnity where it remains enshrined today.

In 1264, Pope Urban instituted the universal Solemnity of Corpus Christi and asked the renowned theologian Father Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgical texts for the feast. Among the texts the future saint and doctor of the Church composed are the revered and frequently sung hymns, “Pange Lingua,” “Tantum Ergo,” “Panis Angelicus,” and “O Salutaris Hostia.” The Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity was chosen for the annual feast in honor of the day that the Eucharist was instituted.

After the death of Pope Urban IV, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi was removed from the universal calendar for about fifty-three years until Pope John XXII added it back in 1317. Since that time, the solemnity has grown and become an important annual celebration that often includes Eucharistic processions, adoration, and Mass. In many locations where it is not a holy day of obligation, the solemnity is moved to the following Sunday so as to extend the celebration to the entire people of God. In 1869, Pope Pius IX canonized Saint Juliana of Lièges, adding even greater credence to her miraculous visions and solidifying the importance of this holy solemnity.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, spend time pondering the profound mystery of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we kneel before Him, we truly kneel before His throne in Heaven, despite the reality being veiled from our eyes. As we consume the Blessed Sacrament, we truly consume Christ Himself—Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity—and receive Him into our souls. Though we might not feel Him with our bodily senses, we must allow our spiritual sense of faith to grow so that our love for Him in this Most Precious Gift exponentially increases. Let’s conclude with the “Tantum Ergo,” which is taken from the last two verses of the beautiful hymn of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the “Pange Lingua:”

Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred Host we hail; Lo! o’er ancient forms departing, newer rites of grace prevail; faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail. To the everlasting Father, and the Son who reigns on high, with the Holy Ghost proceeding forth from Each eternally, be salvation, honor, blessing, might and endless majesty. Amen. Alleluia.

Prayer: My Eucharistic Lord, please instill in me a profound love for You Who are truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist. May I always adore You, believe in You, hope in You, and love You. I pray that my faith and devotion to You in this Most Holy Sacrament will more fully unite my soul to Yours and that my love and devotion will be a source of reparation for the indifference with which You are so often treated. Jesus, present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, I trust in You!

Reflection taken from:

Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Volumes One–Four


Read about this Solemnity:

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican News

Catholic Saints & Feasts

Catholic Encyclopedia

Catholic News Agency

EWTN

Simply Catholic

Word on Fire

Catholic Saints Info

Catholic Culture

Wikipedia

All Saints for the Liturgical Year


(Short Version)

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—Solemnity

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi originated with Saint Juliana of Cornillon who was born near Liège, Belgium around 1191. Orphaned at the age of five, Juliana and her sister were entrusted to the care of Augustinian nuns. Within the convent, Juliana grew in her faith, participated in Eucharistic adoration, and frequented Holy Communion. Eventually, she joined the Augustinian order.

At age sixteen, Juliana had a mystical vision during Eucharistic adoration in which she saw the moon with a dark stripe. By divine intuition, she understood that the moon symbolized the Church’s life on earth, and the dark stripe symbolized the absence of a feast dedicated to the Body and Blood of Christ. Though she had the same vision several more times, she kept it to herself for twenty years.

Around age thirty-six, Juliana shared her vision with two holy women. Together, the three grew in their love of Christ in the Eucharist, adoring His hidden presence and receiving Holy Communion frequently. After sharing her vision with the bishop, he reluctantly approved an annual feast to honor the Blessed Sacrament; other bishops followed. As word spread about Juliana’s visions, her superior and some clergy opposed her. She took refuge in various Cistercian monasteries for ten years.

Juliana died at the age of sixty-seven while adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament in her cell. A local Archdeacon in Lièges, Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes, who was familiar with Juliana and her visions, was elected Pope Urban IV in 1261. He believed that a universal Corpus Christi feast was God’s will. 

In 1263, a Eucharistic miracle took place in Bolsena, Italy. A German priest named Father Peter of Prague stopped at the local church to offer Mass during a pilgrimage at the tomb of Saint Christina, a fourth-century martyr. Father Peter was struggling to believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. During the consecration, blood flowed from the host he was holding onto his hands and the linen corporal on the altar. He immediately went to Pope Urban, who was staying nearby, to reveal the miracle and his lack of faith. The pope absolved him and sent a delegation to investigate. The delegation brought the corporal to the cathedral in Orvieto, where it remains enshrined today.

In 1264, Pope Urban instituted the universal Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, in honor of the day that the Eucharist was instituted. He asked the renowned theologian Father Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgical texts for the feast. Among the texts the future saint and Doctor of the Church composed are the revered hymns, “Pange Lingua,” “Tantum Ergo,” “Panis Angelicus,” and “O Salutaris Hostia.” 

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi has grown and become an important annual celebration, often including Eucharistic processions, adoration, and Mass. Where it is not a holy day of obligation, the solemnity is moved to the following Sunday so as to extend the celebration to the entire people of God. In 1869, Pope Pius IX canonized Saint Juliana of Lièges, adding greater credence to her miraculous visions and solidifying the importance of this holy solemnity.

My Eucharistic Lord, please instill in me a profound love for You truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist. May I always adore You, believe in You, hope in You, and love You. I pray that my faith and devotion to You in this Most Holy Sacrament will more fully unite my soul to Yours and will be a source of reparation for the indifference with which You are so often treated. Jesus, present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, I trust in You!

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