The Feast of Corpus Christi also known as Corpus Domini is a Christian solemnity to honor the Eucharist and to establish the belief in His body and blood and also to acknowledge his Real Presence in the Holy Communion or the Eucharist.

It gives emphasis to the joy of the institution of the Eucharist that was held on a Holy Thursday near the Good Friday. The observation was a somber one, and in the present Roman Missal, the feast is designated to be the “The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”. This holy day of obligation is widely celebrated on the Thursday after the Trinity Sunday.

After the Holy Mass there is generally a procession of the Blessed Sacrament which is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Among these processions, the notable one is the one that is presided over annually by the Pope in Rome which starts at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and goes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major where it is concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Corpus Christi in the United States in the next five years:

  • In 2014, Corpus Christi is on Thursday, June 19.
  • In 2015, Corpus Christi is on Thursday, June 04.
  • In 2016, Corpus Christi is on Thursday, May 26.
  • In 2017, Corpus Christi is on Thursday, June 15.
  • In 2018, Corpus Christi is on Thursday, May 31.

History:

  • It is believed that the Feast of Corpus Christi was introduced to the Christian Calendar in the 13th century. It was the hard work of forty years of Juliana of Liège, who belonged to a Roman Catholic Order.
  • Juliana had a special mark of respect for the Blessed Sacrament and had always wanted it to be honored on a day outside that of the period of Lent.
  • Her desire was enhanced when she visioned the Church being bathed by the beams of the Full Moon, but having one dark spot.  Juliana attributed the dark spot to be due to the absence of a solemnity for the Blessed Sacrament.
  • In 1208 Juliana spoke about her first vision of Christ in which she claimed that Christ instructed her to plead for the inclusion of the Feast of Corpus Christi in the Christian Calendar.
  • Juliana had such visions repeatedly for the next twenty years, but she kept it to herself. After that she relayed it to her confessor who in turn relayed it to the bishop.
  • At that time bishops had the power to order feasts in their own dioceses. In 1246 after repeated pleadings from Juliana Bishop Robert de Thorete convened a synod that after discussions the celebrations of Corpus Christi was declared to be held annually thereafter.
  • In 1264, Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes, who was the Archdeacon in Liège, became the Pope, and took the name Urban IV. He was won over by the good cause that was being upheld in the Feast of Corpus Christi. He thus instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and declared it to be on the Thursday after Pentecost.
  • When the General Roman Calendar was revised by Pope Pius V, he kept the Feast of Corpus Christi as one of the two “Feasts of Devotion”.

Public Life in the United States:

In the United States, this day is not considered to be a federal holiday, as such businesses and organizations operate according to their regular schedule. The same is applicable in case of public transportation that runs as per schedule on this day. Schools and other educational institutions also operate following the normal course of routine. Some Church Schools may have special prayers or blessing services organized to mark the day.

Observances in the United States:

In memory of Jesus’ Last Supper on the day preceding His crucifixion, many people especially in the Roman Catholic Churches receive Communion on this day. In some parts of the United States, however, this day is celebrated on the Sunday after the Trinity Sunday. But traditionally the day is observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday is most parts of the country. It is also the time when observant Christians come together in their respective Churches to accept bread and wine as a tribute to the body and blood of Jesus Christ.


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