Corpus Christi

 June 20, 2019



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The Feast of Corpus Christi is a Catholic festival celebrated on the second Thursday after Whitsun. Corpus Christi means the Body of Christ and refers to the elements of the Eucharist also called the Holy Communion, Last Supper or Lord’s Supper.

The emergence of Corpus Christi as a Christian feast didn’t happen until the second half of the thirteenth-century with the efforts of a nun called Juliana of Liège.

Since childhood, Juliana had been claiming that God had been telling her that there should be a feast day for the Eucharist and eventually she petitioned to the Bishop of Liège. In those days bishops could order feasts in their local dioceses. The bishop agreed to the feast and convened a synod in 1246 and ordered that a celebration of Corpus Christi should be held annually.

The Corpus Christi celebration only started to become more widespread after both Juliana and the Bishop had died. In 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus, in which Corpus Christi, was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite.

Corpus Christi is primarily a Roman Catholic feast, but it is also acknowledged in the calendar of a few Anglican churches, most notably the Church of England. It is also celebrated by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians. Across many parts of medieval Europe, Corpus Christi was a popular time for the performance of mystery plays.

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