This week we celebrate Corpus Christi, (Latin for “The Body of Christ”) when we focus on the reality of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The liturgy is a reflection eight weeks after Easter on the institution of the Lord’s Supper as it has been handed down to us from that first Maundy Thursday when Jesus celebrated it with his disciples, passing the bread and wine among them, and instructing them: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
We celebrate the Eucharist six days a week at St. James’ and twice on a Sunday, so why do we need a special feast? Good question. The feast came about thanks to an Augustinian nun, named Saint Juliana of Mont Cornillion, Belgium.
Saint Juliana held great reverence for the Eucharist and felt that it should be a time for rejoicing. However, Maundy Thursday and much of Holy Week is incredibly solemn, and she did not feel that the Eucharist was getting the attention it deserved. After receiving a vision concerning the church’s lack of devotion to the Eucharist, she petitioned Bishop Robert de Thorete, who convened a synod in 1246 where he directed that a feast of Corpus Christi should be observed the following year, which it was.
After the death of both Bishop Robert and Saint Juliana, another woman, Eve (a close friend of Juliana’s), took up the cause to make the feast universal in the church. “In 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the bull transiturus, a declaration ordering the Feast of Corpus Christi extended throughout the entire Church. The date was set for the celebration to be held on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, at the request of the Pope, wrote the Office for the feast. Pope Urban IV died later that year, and the feast was set aside for other pressing matters, until Pope Clement V ordered its adoption at the General Council of Vienne in 1311. By 1325, the feast had been adopted throughout all of Europe and England.”
So there you have it, two fabulous women devoted to Christ brought us this wonderful feast into our liturgical year, so this Father’s day, you can think of them as well!
Accessed June 12, 2017