Sunday, May 29, 2016

Feast of Corpus Christi

The feast of the Corpus Christi celebrates the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. During the last 700 years, the Feast of the Corpus Christi has been celebrated throughout the world. The feast brings about great joy and celebrations. It was originally observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. However, in 1970, it was changed to the following Sunday for the United States and most of the world.

History 
Imagine at the age of sixteen seeing a vision above you of a silver moon with a small section altered. After seeing the vision, it faded. This actually happened to a young teenager, Juliana, in the 12th century. She was from Beligian. Juliana tried to make the image stop coming back, but it wouldn’t.

Juliana decided to join the convent at Mont Cornillion. She had a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament; however, she never thought the images were related to it.  Then one day Juliana finally was told the meaning of the image. While deep in prayer, the Lord explained that the moon was the ritual year of the Church, and the altered area meant something was incomplete. The missing part was that there wasn’t a feast to celebrate the Blessed Sacrament.

God continued His explanation to Juliana by giving her three reasons why He wanted a feast day. The first reason was to strengthen the Catholic belief of the Eucharist. Secondly, it would encourage people to be virtuous and draw strength from the Sacrament. Lastly, it would be a compensation for abuse and sacrilegious acts against the Eucharist.
God informed Juliana that he wanted her to create this feast day. She immediately felt scared and overwhelmed. She pleaded with God not to give her this task, but He chooses her. For years, Juliana put off doing anything about it. Twenty years went by and she became the Superior of her order. Juliana constantly had the urge to speak about the feast, and finally did. She told Robert de Thorte, he was the Bishop of Liege. Thankfully, he believed her and discussed it with Jacques Pantaleon who served as Archdeacon in Liege. He later became Pope Urban IV. They liked the idea of the feast, and it was celebrated in 1246.

Juliana died in 1258, and the solemnity hadn’t reached the entire world. Later on, Juliana was named a saint. There was some controversy in the Church about the feast. Some people felt that the sacrifice daily was enough to celebrate the Blessed Sacrament. However, God wanted a feast day. A miracle occurred in 1263 at a town called Bolsena.
During his journey Rome, Father Peter of Prague, stopped in at Bolsena to serve Mass. He was a Godly man, but he never truly understood that Christ was present in the Blessed Sacrament. Blood began to seep from the Host as he was speaking the words of the Consecration over the tomb of St. Christina. The blood went down his arms and on the altar.
He was very confused, and he requested to leave Mass to see Pope Urban IV who was in a town close by called Orvieto. The Pope listened and did research about the situation. The Pope considered this a great miracle and created a papal bull starting the Feast of the Corpus Christi on September 8, 1264.

The Historical Origin of the Feast of
CORPUS CHRISTI

This Feast of the Sacred Body of Our Divine Lord is celebrated in the Latin Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to solemnly commemorate the Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. This great event is also commemorated on Maundy Thursday, mentioned as Natalia Calicis (Birth of the Chalice) in the Calendar of Polemius (448) for the 24th of March, the 25th of March being recognized in some places as the day of the Death of Christ. This day, however, occurs in Holy Week, a season of sadness, during which the minds of the faithful are expected to be occupied with thoughts of Our Lord's Passion. Moreover, so many other mysteries relative to the Passion are commemorated on this day that the principal event, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, is deserving of a particular festival. This is mentioned as the chief reason for introducing the feast of Corpus Christi in the Papal Bull Transiturus.

The instrument in the hand of Divine Providence was St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, in Belgium. She was born in 1203 at
Retinnes near Liège. Orphaned at an early age, she was educated by the Augustinian nuns of Mont Cornillon. In time she made her religious profession and later became Superior. Intrigues and persecutions of various kinds drove her from her own convent several times. She died on the fifth of April, 1258, at the House of the Cistercian nuns at Fosses, and was buried at Villiers.

From her early youth, Sr. Juliana had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in Its honor. This holy desire was given further impetus by an authentic vision which she was shown of the Church, whose liturgical cycle appeared as an almost-full moon, yet having one dark void, signifying the absence of such a solemnity. She humbly submitted this revelation to Msgr. Robert de Thorete, then Bishop of Liège; to the learned Dominican Hugh, later Cardinal Legate in the Netherlands; and finally to Jacques Pantaléon, at that time Archdeacon of Liège, who afterwards was successively made the Bishop of Verdun, Patriarch of Jerusalem (after the First Crusade), and finally elected to the Papacy as Urban IV. Bishop Robert was favorably inclined to promote a greater devotion to our Eucharistic King. Since bishops had the right of ordering feasts for their respective jurisdictions, he called a synod in 1246, and ordered the celebration to be held in the following year; also, that a monk whose name was John should write the special Office for the occasion. The episcopal decree is still preserved in Binterim (Denkwürdigkeiten, V, 1, 276), together with parts of the Office. The pious Bishop did not live to see the fulfillment of his command, for he died on October 16, 1246. Nevertheless, the feast was celebrated for the first time by the obedient canons of the Cathedral of St. Martin at Liège.

Meanwhile, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Jacques Pantaléon, was elected Pope on August 29, 1261. There was at that time in Liège a devout recluse in whom St. Juliana had inspired a fervent devotion of the Holy Eucharist, who spent her time in adoration of Our Divine Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. She besought the Bishop of Liège, Heinrich of Guelders, to request the Sovereign Pontiff to extend this beautiful celebration to the entire Catholic world. Pope Urban IV, who had long cherished a fervent devotion for the feast of Corpus Christi, granted the petition on September 8, 1264, by publishing the Bull Transiturus. Having extolled the love of Our Savior manifested in the Holy Eucharist, he ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, and at the same time granted many Indulgences to the faithful for the attendance at Mass and at the Office. This Office, composed at the request of the Pope by the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most beautiful in the Roman Breviary, and has been admired not only for its wonderful devotion, but also for its literary excellence.

The death of Pope Urban IV on October 2, 1264, shortly after the publication of the decree, somewhat impeded the spread of the new feast. But Pope Clement V again took the matter in hand, and at the General Council of Vienne (1311), took
measures to implement the feast of Corpus Christi. His new decree embodied that of Pope Urban IV, and his successor, Pope John XXII (of Sabbatine Privilege fame) also urged its observance. The Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which was already held in some places, was endowed with rich indulgences by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. The pious Bishops of the German Empire were the first to accomplish a uniform observance of the new feast (instituted at Köln in 1306, at Worms in 1315, and in Strasbourg in 1316). In England it was introduced from the continent between 1320 and 1325.

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