|Monstrance in Toledo Spain|
There are many images associated with the Feast of Corpus Christi, some are of the crowd of persons processing through the streets, or the many images of the monstrance such as the one above or one of the many which will be displayed in this post. One of my most memorable images of Corpus Christi is not captured on film, however it is held in my memory. The image is of an Archbishop who was appointed after the death of his predecessor who had held the position for almost twenty years, carrying the monstrance on Corpus Christi, wearing stylish shades, yet walking resolutely amongst us. For many of us, he was an enigma as our past Archbishop inculcated faith through love and practice. with homilies which were rarely about anything based on knowledge, perhaps he knew of our tendency to fall asleep at the drop of a hat or perhaps they were directed towards us, in the knowledge that we were children. This current Archbishop spoke of knowledge based matters and attempted to get us to think. However there was at least one similarity between the two, in that he shared the love of humanity of his predecessor and this was seen in many little ways. For those who are not familiar with the background to the Feast, here is an extract from Wiki:
"The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness ofGood Friday.
In the present Roman Missal, the feast is designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran, and Old Catholic Churchesthat hold similar beliefs regarding the Real Presence.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, "where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day". At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. "
The institution of Corpus Christi as a feast in the Christian calendar resulted from approximately forty years of work on the part of Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century religious woman from an unrecognized religious order. Orphaned and placed in a convent at an early age, Juliana developed a special veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a feast day outside of Lent in its honour. Her vita reports that this desire was enhanced by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. In 1208, she reported her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop.
Juliana also petitioned the learned Dominican Hugh of St-Cher, Jacques Pantaléon (Archdeacon of Liège who later became Pope Urban IV) and Robert de Thorete, Bishop of Liège. At that time bishopscould order feasts in their dioceses, so in 1246 Bishop Robert convened a synod and ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held each year thereafter.
The celebration of Corpus Christi became widespread only after both St. Juliana and Bishop Robert de Thorete had died. In 1264 Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite. The legend that this act was inspired by a procession to Orvieto after a village priest in Bolsena and his congregation witnessed aEucharistic miracle of a bleeding consecrated host at Bolsena has been called into question by scholars who note problems in the dating of the alleged miracle, whose tradition begins in the 14th century, and the interests of Urban IV, which was initiated while he served as Archdeacon in Liege in the 1240s. This was the first papally imposed universal feast for the Latin Rite.
While the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy (Maundy) Thursday, the liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ's New Commandment ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." John 13:34), the washing of the disciples' feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For this reason, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist.
Three versions of the office for the feast of Corpus Christi in extant manuscripts provide evidence for the Liege origins and "voice" of Juliana in an "original office", which was followed by two later versions of the office. A highly sophisticated and polished version can be found in BNF 1143, a musical manuscript devoted entirely to the feast, upon which there is wide scholarly agreement: The version in BNF 1143 is a revision of an earlier version found in Prague, Abbey of Strahov MS D.E.I. 7 and represents the work of St. Thomas Aquinas following or during his residency at Orvietofrom 1259 to 1265. This liturgy may be used as a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament on weekdays in ordinary time. The hymn Aquinas composed for Vespers of Corpus Christi, Pange Lingua or another eucharistic hymn, is also used on Holy (Maundy) Thursday during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose. The last two verses of Pange Lingua are also used as a separate hymn, Tantum Ergo, which is sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. O Salutaris Hostia, another hymn sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, comprises the last two verses of Verbum Supernum Prodiens, Aquinas' hymn for Lauds of Corpus Christi. Aquinas also composed the propers for the Mass of Corpus Christi, including thesequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem. The epistle reading for the Mass was taken from Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:23-29), and the Gospel reading was taken from theGospel of John (John 6:56-59).
When Pope Pius V revised the General Roman Calendar (see Tridentine Calendar), Corpus Christi was one of only two "feasts of devotion" that he kept, the other being Trinity Sunday.
The feast had an octave until 1955, when Pope Pius XII suppressed all octaves, even in local calendars, except those of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost (see General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII).
From 1849 until 1969 a separate Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ was assigned originally to the first Sunday in July, later to the first day of the month. This feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, "because the Most Precious Blood of Christ the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, of Corpus Christi and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the feast of the Exaltaton of the Holy Cross. But the Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is placed among the votive Masses".
The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Dutch: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, French: Basilique du Saint-Sang) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Bruges, Belgium. Originally built in the 12th century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders, the church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders. Built between 1134 and 1157, it was promoted to minor basilica in 1923.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The 12th-century basilica is located in the Burg square and consists of a lower and upper chapel. The lower chapel dedicated to St. Basil the Great is a dark Romanesque structure that remains virtually unchanged. The venerated relic is in the upper chapel, which was rebuilt in the Gothic style during the 16th century and renovated multiple times during the 19th century in Gothic Revival style.
The Procession of the Holy Blood is a large religious procession, dating back to the Middle Ages, which takes place each Ascension Day in Bruges, Belgium.
The centerpiece is the Blood of Christ, a coagulated relic said to become fluid again each year on this day. Sixty to one hundred thousand spectators watch the procession, a parade of historical scenes and biblical stories. Choirs, dance groups (e.g. dance theatre Aglaja), animals (ranging from geese to camels), horse-drawn floats and small plays with many actors pass by within a couple of hours. More than 3,000 people participate in the spectacle, which is also called "Brugges Schoonste Dag" (Dutch for "The Most Beautiful Day in Bruges"). The event retains its spiritual aspect, as many bishops, priests and nuns from all over the world come to celebrate. When the Holy Blood passes by, the crowd becomes still and silent in reverence. The event is protected by the UNESCO as part of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.