The feast of Corpus Christi ( aka Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) is a liturgical feast in the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox church in honor of the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. It’s the celebration of the the real and full presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament.
It’s celebrated on Thursday after Trinity Sunday and in some countries it’s assigned on Sunday after the trinity Sunday.
History of Corpus Christi
The feast of Corpus Christi was originated by Robert de Torote, bishop of Liège in the year 1246 when he ordered the feast to be celebrated in his diocese. He was made to initiate the feast by St. Juliana, prioress of Mont Cornillon who reported a vision in the year 1208. A vision where she saw the moon shining bright but part of the moon was lightless. One day in one of her vision, Jesus showed her the meaning of the vision . The moons signifies the liturgy of the year and the black lightless spot in the moon signifies the absence of a solemnity in honor of his (Christ) real presence in the blessed sacrament.
This vision appeared to St Juliana for 20 years and she kept it a secret till she later narrated it her confessor, who later narrated it to the Bishops.
At that time bishops have the power to order feasts in their diocese. So in the year 1246 Bishop Robert de Torote, bishop of Liège ordered that the feast of corpus Christi be celebrated in his diocese each year on Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
The feast didn’t spread till when Jacques Pantaléon the former archdeacon of Liège, became Pope Urban IV. He ordered that the feast be celebrated all over the Catholic Church.
Pope Urban IV orders where later confirmed during the reign of Pope Clement V at the council of Vienna in 1311-1312. By the the 4th-5th century the feast was accepted by all and it became one of the fundamental feast in the Catholic Church.
Other non Catholic churches also celebrated the feast. During the days of the reformation when the doctrine of transubstantiation(true presence of Christ in the bread and wine after consecration) was rejected by protestant churches, the feast of Corpus Christi ceased to exist in those churches.
How Corpus Christi is celebrated
After the mass, a procession takes place through the streets where the blessed sacrament is displayed in a monstrance to the public. After the procession there will be a benediction which is used to end the feast.
The primary reason for the feast is to focus our attention on the Sacrament of Eucharist. The opening prayers of the mass tells us about the suffering and death of Jesus Christ and our worshipping of him in the Eucharist at every mass celebrated all over the world .
The feast of corpus Christi is an opportunity to publicly express your faith in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and at same time adoring him in unity and love.
NOTE : In some countries in the world , there’s no procession or public display of the Blessed sacrament during the Corpus Christi due to weather condition (Rainy season). The procession or public display of the blessed sacrament is shifted to the feast Christ the king.
This will lead me to explain what the feast of Christ the king is and it’s origin.
What is the feast of Christ the king
The feast of Christ the king (aka. Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe) is a Catholic liturgical feast in honor of Jesus Christ as the King of all creation. It emphasises the true lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s celebrated on the last Sunday of liturgical calendar and marks the beginning of advent.
History of feast of Christ the king
In the early 20th century, the world was in shambles due to the First World War. There was chaos everywhere and the economy crumbled.
There’s was mass hunger and suffering, the military threatened both the church and civilization itself.
Due to the suffering and lack of basic needs in the society, people clung to anyone who offered them hope or promised to put food on their tables and excluded God in their everyday lives.
As these went on, the new Pope Pius XI saw how people deny Christ because of lifestyle and false hope created by the people in power.
He decided to address the political and economic forces that were crowding out Christ’s kingship. He dedicated his reign as pope to the “Pax Christi in Regno Christi” which means The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom.
In the year 1925, Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the king giving people hope and assuring people that Christ rules above all Government and politics of the world also that the government of this world has end but the reign of Christ is forever.
In his Quas primas he wrote “He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘as instruments of justice unto God.’”
The feast was celebrated on the the last Sunday of October but during the reign of Pope Paul VI it was moved to last Sunday of Ordinary time which marks the beginning of advent. The liturgical vestment is White.
Purpose of the feast of Christ the king
To help the faithful to gain strength from their King Our lord Jesus Christ.
That the leaders of the world would recognize that they must pledge and give respect to Christ Jesus.
That the world would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state.
That each person should recognize Jesus Christ as their sovereign King and emulate him as Christians should.