Among the popular festivals, Corpus Domini is undoubtedly one of the most heartfelt solemnities. The style of the celebration is made up of processions and meaning, which recalls the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, contributing to making this anniversary so loved by the faithful. But what are its origins, and what is its history?
The origins of Corpus Domini
Corpus Domini’s history originates in the Middle Ages in Belgium. In Liège in the thirteenth century, the bishop complied with the request of a nun. Who wished to celebrate the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus in a period other than that of Holy Week. Therefore, this festival has even more ancient origins in Belgian Gaul. And the revelations of the Blessed Juliana of Retìne, the prioress of the Monastery of Monte Cornelio in Liège. In 1208the prioress had a mystical vision in which a white moon presented a shadow on one side and represented the church of her time. Which still did not have a solemnity in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.
Following this event, the spiritual director of the blessed was supported by the favorable opinion of numerous theologians. And decided to submit a request to the bishop to introduce the feast in honor of Corpus Domini. In 1246 the approval arrived, and the date was fixed on the Thursday after the octave of the Trinity. At that time, the feast was limited to the diocese of Liège alone. It was only on 11 August 1264. With Pope Urban IV, with the Transiturus bull, this solemnity was extended to the entire church.
The Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena
The miracle of Bolsena was the decisive event that convinced the pontiff of the need to institute this festival. In 1245, a year before the actual approval, the Bohemian priest Peter of Prague was returning from a pilgrimage to Rome. He stopped at the Church of Santa Cristina in Bolsena to celebrate mass. While he was preparing to break the consecrated Host, he was seized by the doubt of the real presence of Christ within it.
In that same instant, drops of blood came out of the Host and poured onto the linen corporal and the altar’s stones. After this event, the pope sent the bishop of Orvieto to verify what had happened and take the rocks and the corporal to be placed in the shrine of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Orvieto. Later they were moved to the Cathedral, built specifically to keep them.
The feast of Corpus Domini celebrates the closeness of Jesus to men. For this reason, the recurrences that characterize this feast are widespread: processions, processions in costume, sacred representations, and numerous other events that involve the entire community.
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Representation of Corpus Domini
What does Corpus Domini mean?
Eucharistic adoration is the element on which the feast of Corpus Domini is founded. The Eucharist is exposed to give the faithful a way to prove their faith and venerate the Body of Christ. Jesus offered his Body and blood to nourish man as an instrument of salvation and a promise of eternity.
On this feast, the consecrated hosts are placed inside the monstrance. The same is used to bless the faithful and allow Eucharistic adoration. Adoration can also be accompanied by processions that symbolize Jesus is walking among men. And remind us that His Flesh and His Blood will enable us to be closer to Him.
The Corpus Domini of Campobasso
In Campobasso, the feast of Corpus Domini is associated with the Mysteries. And extraordinary sacred representations involving all the city’s inhabitants, artisans, and artists.
These representations have been known since the sixteenth century. And from that moment, the lay brotherhoods were created in charge of preparing the feast. Today the organization has become even more structured but still maintains the charm of the ancient tradition.
The celebrations of Corpus Domini are among the most awaited recurrences by the faithful from all over the world, not only for the meaning of the festival but also for the popular origin that has been indissolubly united over time to the profound religious significance.
The Corpus Domini of Orvieto
The festival of Orvieto is characterized by the Corteo Delle Donne, a re-enactment that takes place on the day before the festival and which re-proposes the scenes of medieval life, with shows by flag-wavers and falconry.
The day of Corpus Domini is the day of the actual feast. The historical procession merges with the religious procession, creating the most beautiful combination of famous, historical, and religious traditions.
Corpus Domini celebrations in the Vatican
Tommaso D Aquino was the first to compose the office of the solemnity and the Mass of Corpus et Sanguis Domini on the orders of Pope Urbino IV. St. Thomas lived in the convent of San Domenico, where the wooden crucifix still stands today. He turned to the theologian to show approval for the work done. On this occasion, according to tradition, St. Thomas heard the following words coming from the crucifix: “ Bene scripsisti, Thoma, de me quam ergo mercedem occupies? “(You have spoken well of me, Thomas. What will your reward be?), And Thomas replied:” Nonaliam nisi te, Domine! ”(Nothing but You, Lord!).
The same hymn was sung during the Corpus Domini procession and in Vespers. Ange Lingua was conceived and written by Tommaso D Aquino.
Except for the common characteristics in all the cities that celebrate this anniversary, each place has its customs that revolve around the adoration of the consecrated Host.
Corpus Domini (Body of the Lord), or Corpus Christi, is undoubtedly one of the most popular solemnities. Either because of its meaning, which recalls the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or because of the style of the celebration. In fact, in almost all dioceses, it is accompanied by processions, a visual representation of Jesus walking the paths of man.