Feast of Corpus Christi
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, more commonly known by its Latin name the Feast of Corpus Christi, is celebrated in honor of Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist on Good Thursday. The introduction of the feast is traced to a vision received by St. Juliana of Mont-Cornillon, early in the 13th century.
Juliana, born in 1193 in the Diocese of Liègem, in Belgium was especially known for her love of the Blessed Virgin, the sacred Passion, and especially the Blessed Sacrament. Orphaned at an early age, Juliana was educated by the Augustinian nuns of Mont Cornillon, where she would eventually make her religious profession. From her youth, Juliana always had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament. She began to experience visions when she was about 16, and one such experience pertained to the establishment of Feast of Corpus Christi. She saw an image of the full moon, its brightness blemished by one dark spot. After several days of prayer, a voice rendered the meaning:
“That which disturbs thee is that a feast is wanting to My Church Militant, which I desire to establish. It is the feast of the Most High and Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. At present the celebration of this mystery is only observed on Maundy Thursday, but on that day My sufferings and death are the principal objects of consideration; therefore I desire another day to be set apart in which it shall be celebrated by the whole of Christendom…”
As noted in Eucharistic Miracles, three reasons were then given for the request:
“First, that faith in this sacrament would be confirmed by this feast when future attacks against its validity would be introduced; second, that the faithful would be strengthened on their way to virtue by a sincere and profound adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; third, that because of this feast, and the loving attention given to it, reparation would be made for the irreverence and impiety shown to the Blessed Sacrament.”
In 1264, Pope Urban IV ordered the feast of Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. In the present day, the feast is observed in the United States on the Sunday following Holy Trinity Sunday.