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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Corpus Christi

1) Corpus Christi is a Holy Day of Obligation—but not in the United States. The Feast of Corpus Christi is one of the ten recognized Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church, and is celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. However, in several countries, Corpus Christi is celebrated on the following Sunday. Attendance at daily Mass on that Thursday is always encouraged, but is not mandatory in the United States.

2) Corpus Christi wasn’t an official feast day for more than 60 years after its conception.While the Feast of Corpus Christi was first celebrated in 1246 in the Diocese of Liege, it wasn’t until the 1300s that the celebration became widespread in the Church, after the Council of Vienne in 1311.

3) The procession most commonly associated with Corpus Christi wasn’t originally part of the plan. Both Pope Urban IV and Pope Clement V published decrees regarding the celebration of the feast, in 1264 and 1311, but neither mentioned a public procession for the adoration of the Eucharist.

Corpus Christi Procession

4) Corpus Christi followed a long and winding road to becoming a feast day. St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon in Belgium was the originator of the idea, and brought it to Bishop Robert de Thorete of Liege. From there, it made its way to Pope Urban IV, who had been an arch-deacon in her diocese, —but both Bishop Robert and Pope Urban died before the feast became universally celebrated. Pope urban had declared the feast a universal feast of the Church but it wasn’t until almost 80 years later, in 1325, that Corpus Christi was celebrated in England.

Pope Urban IV

 

5) The Feast of Corpus Christi came about because as a result of a vision. St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon had a deep adoration of the Eucharist, and always wanted to see a special feast in its honor. This became a springboard when she experienced a vision of the Church under a full moon, with one dark spot on its surface. This darkness was symbolic of the absence of such a solemnity.

Saint Juliana

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