Corpus Cristi

What do the words Corpus Christi mean?

They are two Latin words that mean the Body of Christ.

What is Corpus Christi?

It is the great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ that had its origin in a miracle, but how did it all begin?

Christ instituted the Eucharist, called by many Holy Mass, on the night of Holy Thursday, for this reason that day is a holiday, but its proximity to Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion and death, made the party dedicated to his body and blood present in the Eucharist had to be celebrated very modestly.

What is the origin of this party?

It is based on 2 very important events:

Firstly, with the desire to better celebrate the moment of the institution and give thanks for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, various ideas arose throughout history, at the end of the 13th century at the Cornillon Abbey in Liège, Belgium, practices arose to adore and exalt the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, such as the exposure and blessing with the Blessed Sacrament, the ringing of bells during the consecration and elevation of the host and the chalice, and a special day to celebrate the feast of Corpus et Sanguis Cristi.

Saint Juliana de Mont Cornillon, who was born around the year 1190, had many visions. At the age of 16, she had the first one in which she saw the moon in all its splendor but saw a diametrically dark stripe. The Lord revealed to her what this vision meant, and He said, the moon in all its splendor signifies the life of the church, but that dark strip means that a liturgical feast is missing where the Eucharist is publicly adored, so from that moment on, the saint who later became a religious, a prioress Together with her sisters, she committed herself to a great fervor to adore the Holy Eucharist and convinced the bishop of the place to dedicate a day for the feast of Corpus Christi.

The bishop called a Synod in his diocese in 1246 and the festival began to be celebrated first in that region, Liège in 1247, later spreading to Germany, however, God would help so that the festival spread to the whole world.

The second event is that in 1263 a priest named Peter of Prague, tormented by doubts about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, wondered if Christ would really be present in the unity of a Host. With the desire to purify his thoughts and ask for divine help to recover the faith, he decided to go on a pilgrimage to Rome, there he visited the tomb of the apostles Peter, Paul and the tomb of many martyrs who gave their lives to defend the faith.

After asking God to restore his faith, he began his return trip and stopped by a lake in a small and quiet Italian town called Bolsena, where he quietly walked the streets and after meditating a little he decided to celebrate a Eucharist in the Basilica of Santa Cristina and right on this altar, surrounded by a balustrade and under the canopy supported by columns, the wonder was performed, to the admiration of all those present after the consecration, drops of blood began to flow from the host , in such abundance that they soaked the corporal, a small tablecloth that covered the altar. Not knowing what to do, he stopped the mass and went to the sacristy with the corporal and the blood-stained hosts. As he moved, a few drops fell on the marble slabs of this church in Bolsena.

The pope, at that time Urban IV, lived in Orvieto, a town very close to Bolsena, due to the clashes between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, when he found out what had happened, he asked the general minister of the Franciscans, Juan de Fidanza (in Italian Giovanni di Fidanza) better known as San Buenaventura de Bagnoregio, who was the theologian in charge of verifying the facts

Once verified, the pope asked Bishop Giacomo Maltraga to take the relic of the corporal in procession to the city of Orvieto to keep it in a reliquary, meanwhile in the church of Santa Cristina in Bolsena the marble that also received the drops of blood.

When is this party instituted?

In honor of the miracle, the Pope, through a papal document, a bull called “Transiturus de hoc mundo”, instituted on August 11, 1264 the feast of Corpus Christi for the second Thursday after Pentecost and to make it more solemn. , commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to create the proper liturgy, the famous Dominican composed five famous hymns that we continue to sing to this day:

  • Pange lingua
  • Adoro te devote
  • Tantum ergo
  • Verbum supernum prodiens
  • Lauda Sion salvatorem

And that liturgical office is the one we continue to use to this day, when there is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

It is interesting to mention that, in the Diocese of Cologne, in Germany, the festival was already celebrated before 1270, however, the decree of Pope Urban IV had little impact because Pope Clement V died shortly after, fortunately, at the Council General of Vienna in the year 1311 ordered the festival for Europe.

Subsequently, Pope John XXII would extend it to the entire church and the Council of Trent in the 16th century would give it even more strength and solemnity to the feast of Corpus et Sanguis Cristi, the Body and Blood of Christ, began to be celebrated in Mexico. since the arrival of the missionaries.

When is celebrated?

In this papal bull the following is said, that the Pope asks that it be celebrated on the Thursday after the eighth of Pentecost, which was changed to Holy Trinity Sunday, saying it in current terms, the feast of the solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated on Thursday after the Sunday that is the following to Pentecost Sunday.

Why is Corpus Christi celebrated on a Thursday?

It is celebrated on Thursday because it was a Thursday during the last supper, when Christ wanted to give us his body and blood as food, through the Eucharist, Jesus continues to feed us with his bread as he did in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, and turns the wine into their blood for us with the same power with which he turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

Corpus Christi, then, tries to proclaim and increase faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the species of bread and wine

It must be said clearly, it was Jesus who instituted the Eucharist, as recounted in the Gospel of Saint Mark 26:26-29.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, pronounced the blessing, broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: “Take and eat; this is my body.

Then he took a cup, gave thanks and passed it to him saying: «drink all of it: this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is shed for many, for the forgiveness of their sins. And I tell you that from now on I will not drink the fruit of the vine again, until the day I drink it new with you in my father’s kingdom.”

The solemnity of Corpus Christi is a holy day in some countries, but not in all, for example, El Salvador, Germany, Colombia and Mexico.

How is Corpus Christi celebrated?

In Rome there is a great procession that leaves from San Juan de Letrán to Santa María la Mayor, previously it was on foot, now, the Pope goes in the popemobile with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, blessing all the parishioners.

It catches my attention, in Venezuela for example, in these processions are added representations of dancing devils that humiliate themselves in the presence of Jesus the Eucharist.

In Colombia, this celebration is also very important, there is a parade of floats.

In Mexico, altars are built and the priest goes with the Blessed Sacrament, making stations on these altars and blessing the people. At the Corpus Christi celebration, people came from all around bringing huacales on mules with their food and also the first fruits, such as Thank God, that’s why in Mexico City it was called the day of the mules.

All the visitors wore their best outfits and even the indigenous men wore manta pants, huaraches and a new hat, while the women wore embroidered blouses, shawls and braided hair, hence the tradition of dressing indigenous children, carrying huacalitos , and for this reason they are blessed at the end of the mass and the procession

The so-called day of the mules used to tell of a Eucharistic miracle witnessed by Saint Anthony of Padua, who is celebrated in the near days, normally on June 13: a man who did not believe that Christ was in the consecrated Host, challenged the saint telling him that he would only believe if his mule recognized him, Antonio accepted the challenge, as the hungry animal was locked up, the man stood on one side of the exit with enough pasture and asked the saint to stand on the other side with the consecrated Host when he they let go, the little mule went to where the Eucharist was, folded its legs as a sign of respect and then went to where the food was, due to this miracle of the mule, some began to give away the figure of a mule on Corpus Christi day to the most disbelievers or distanced, this tradition continues to this day allowing artisans to make mules out of clay, palms and corn leaves, but the most important thing is that every day in any part of the world, Christ continues to perform the miracle of being present in the Eucharist to offer the bread of life and you are its main guest.

At the beginning, this solemnity of Corpus Cristi was called Corpus Domini, in fact, in some places in Italy, it is still known that way, but later when it became universally official, the name was changed to Corpus Cristi.

Hymn of Corpus Lauda Sion Salvatorem: Praising the presence of Christ in the Eucharist

If you noticed the special hymn that is proclaimed before the Gospel in the Corpus Christi celebration. It is the Hymn of Santo Tomás Lauda Sion Salvatorem, which is known as a sequence.

This hymn, with its beautiful words and melody, invites us to reflect on the importance of the Eucharist in our lives and to adore the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine.

In each Corpus Christi celebration, this hymn reminds us that Christ is the bread of life that feeds us and that in the Eucharist He himself makes himself present to nourish us spiritually. It is a special moment where we experience the closeness and love of our Lord.

We hope that during the next Corpus Christi celebration, you will be able to enjoy and reflect on this significant hymn. We invite you to immerse yourself in his verses and let his message resonate in your heart.

The importance of Eucharistic miracles.

As we have seen, this great solemnity began with a Eucharistic miracle, the miracle of Bolsena, and finally I would like to recall the importance of Eucharistic miracles. We will mention another:

The miracle of Lanciano occurred in the eighth century, specifically in the year 750 AD. C, during the celebration of mass, a priest doubted the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. At the moment of consecration, the bread and wine were miraculously transformed into flesh and blood.

The meat became heart meat and the blood became clotted blood. These phenomena remained intact throughout the centuries and are preserved to this day. The fragments of meat and coagulated blood are kept in the Basilica of San Francesco in Lanciano and are exhibited for the veneration of the faithful.

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