Catholic Teachings

Corpus Christi (We Need A Heart Transplant)

Corpus Christi (We Need A Heart Transplant)

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Ecclesiastical Latin: Dies Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Domini Iesu Christi, lit. ‘Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord’), also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,[2] is a Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Western Orthodox liturgical solemnity celebrating the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist. Two months earlier, the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper is observed on Maundy Thursday in a sombre atmosphere leading to Good Friday. The liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The feast of Corpus Christi was proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church to Pope Urban IV, in order to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Having recognized the authenticity of the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena on input of Aquinas,[3] in 1264, the pontiff, then living in Orvieto, established the feast of Corpus Christi as a Solemnity and extended it to the whole Roman Catholic Church.[4][5]

The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”.[6]

At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and passes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Corporal of Bolsena dates from a Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena, Italy, in 1263 when a consecrated host allegedly began to bleed onto a corporal, the small cloth upon which the host and chalice rest during the Canon of the Mass. The appearance of blood was seen as a miracle to affirm the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which states that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ at the moment of consecration during the Mass. Today the Corporal of Bolsena is preserved in a rich reliquary at Orvieto in the cathedral. The reddish spots on the cloth, upon close observation, show the profile of a face similar to those that traditionally represent Jesus Christ. It is said that the miraculous bleeding of the host occurred in the hands of an officiating priest who had doubts about transubstantiation. The “Miracle of Bolsena” is regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as a private revelation, meaning that Catholics are under no obligation to believe it although they may do so freely.

Pope Urban IV makes no mention of it in the bull by which he established the feast of Corpus Christi, although the legend of the miracle is set in his lifetime and is claimed by its partisans to have determined him in his purpose of establishing the feast. The contemporary biographers of Urban are silent: Muratori, Rerum Italicarum scriptores, (vol. III, pt. l, 400ff) and Thierricus Vallicoloris, who, in his life of the pope in Latin verse, describes in detail all the events of the pontiff’s stay at Orvieto, referring elsewhere also to the devotion of Urban in celebrating the Mass, and to the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi, without at any time making allusion to a miracle at Bolsena.

The miracle of Bolsena is related in the inscription on a slab of red marble in the church of St Christina, and is of later date than the canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas (1328). The oldest record of the miracle is in the enamel representations of it that adorn the front of the reliquary made by Sienese goldsmith Ugolino di Vieri in 1337–1338.[1]

In 1344 Clement VI, referring to this matter in a brief, uses only the words propter miraculum aliquod (“on account of some miracle”) (Pennazzi, 367); Gregory XI, in a brief of 25 June 1337, gives a short account of the miracle; and abundant reference to it is found later (1435), in the sermons of the Dominican preacher Leonardo Mattei of Udine (“In festo Corp. Christi”, xiv, ed. Venice, 1652, 59) and by Antoninus of Florence (Chronica, III, 19, xiii, 1), the latter, however, does not say (as the local legend claims) that the priest doubted the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, but, merely that a few drops from the chalice fell upon the corporal. For the rest, similar legends of the “blood-stained corporal” are quite frequent in the legend collections of even earlier date than the fourteenth century, and coincide with the great Eucharistic polemics of the ninth to the twelfth centuries.

Categories: Catholic Teachings

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