About the Solemnity:
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist, paralleling Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) commemorating Our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist. Corpus Christ was introduced in the late 13th century to encourage the faithful give special honor to the institution of the Holy Eucharist to the Blessed Sacrament. The official title of this Solemnity was changed in 1970 to The Body and Blood of Christ (Latin: Sollemnitas Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi); and it is still on the Roman Missal’s official Calendar for the universal Church on Thursday after Trinity Sunday; however, where it is not a day of obligation (as in the United States) it is usually celebrated on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.
Corpus Christi became a mandatory feast in the Roman Church in 1312. But nearly a century earlier, Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillon, promoted a feast to honor the Blessed Sacrament. From early age Juliana, who became an Augustinian nun in Liége, France, in 1206, had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and longed for a special feast in its honor. She had a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. She made known her ideas to the Bishop of Liége, Robert de Thorete, to the Dominican Hugh who later became cardinal legate in the Netherlands, and to Jacques Panaléon, at the time Archdeacon of Liége and who later became Pope Urban IV. Bishop Robert de Thorete ordered that the feast be celebrated in his diocese.
Pope Urban IV later published the Bull Transiturus (September 8, 1264), in which, after having extolled the love of Our Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. More than four decades later, Pope Clement V published a new decree which embodied Urban IV’s decree and ordered the adoption of the feast at the General Council of Vienna (1311). Pope John XXII, successor of Clement V, urged this observance.
The processions on Corpus Christi to honor the Holy Eucharist were not mentioned in the decrees, but had become a principal feature of the feast’s celebration by the faithful, and became a tradition throughout Europe. These processions were endowed with indulgences by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.
Collect of the Day:
O God, you have given us a wonderful sacrament as an abiding memorial of your passion.
Grant, we pray you, that we may celebrate the sacred mysteries of your body and blood
in such a way that we constantly feel within us the effects of your redemption.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
The First Reading: Deuteronomy: 8:2-3. 14-16: He gave you food which your fathers did not know.
The Second Reading: I Corinthians: 10:16-17: Though we are many, we form a single body because we share this one loaf.
The Gospel: John: 6:51-58: My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
St Thomas Aquinas
O precious and wonderful banquet!
Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.
O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.
It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfilment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.
The Litany of the Blessed Sacrament:
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, (respond: Have mercy on us.)
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Living Bread, that came down from heaven,
Hidden God and Savior,
Corn of the elect,
Wine whose fruit are virgins,
Bread of fatness, and royal delicacies,
Lamb without spot,
Most pure Feast,
Food of Angels,
Memorial of the wonders of God,
Word made flesh,
Mystery of faith,
Most high and adorable Sacrament,
Most holy of all sacrifices,
True Propitiation for the living and the dead,
Heavenly Antidote against the poison of sin,
Most wonderful of all miracles,
Most holy commemoration of the passion of Christ,
Gift transcending all fullness,
Special memorial of divine love,
Affluence of divine bounty,
Most august and holy mystery,
Medicine of immortality,
Tremendous and life-giving sacrament,
Bread made flesh by the omnipotence of the word,
Our feast at once and our fellow-guest,
Sweetest banquet, at which angels minister,
Sacrament of piety,
Bond of charity,
Priest and victim,
spiritual sweetness tasted in its proper source,
Refreshment of holy souls,
Viaticum of those who die in the Lord,
Pledge of future glory,
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord.
(response for below: O Lord, deliver us.)
From an unworthy reception of your body and blood,
From the lust of the flesh,
From the lust of the eyes,
From the pride of life,
From every occassion of sin,
Through the desire by which you desired to eat this passover with your disciples,
Through the profound humility by which you washed their feet,
Through that ardent charity by which you instituted this divine sacrament,
Through your precious blood which you have left us on our altars,
Through the five wounds of this your most holy body which you received for us,
We sinners, (respond: We beesech you, hear us.)
That you would preserve and increase our faith, reverence, and devotion
toward this sacrament,
That you would conduct us, through a true confession of our sins, to a
frequent reception of the holy Eucharist,
That you would deliver us from all heresy, evil, and blindness of heart,
That you would impart to us the precious and heavenly fruits of this most
That at the hour of death you would strengthen and defend us by this
Son of God, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us,
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
V. You gave them bread from heaven,
R. Containing in itself all sweetness.
Let us pray.
O God, in this wonderful sacrament you left us a memorial of your passion. Grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may ever continue to feel within us the blessed fruit of your redemption. You live and reign forever and ever. Amen.