The Feast of
The Feast of Corpus Christi which is always on the Thursday following
Trinity Sunday has an interesting history.
Its inspiration is due to two things: the first was the
inspiration of an Augustinian nun, a Belgian named St. Juliana of Mont
Cornillon (A.D. 1193-1258). She had a vision of the moon that was
full and beautiful, but marked by a black spot that signified that there
was no joyous celebration of the Eucharist in the entire Church
The second source was the Miracle of Bolsena, which happened in A.D.
1263. Peter of Prague, a German priest, during a pilgrimage to
Rome, stopped At the Church of St. Christina
there to offer Holy Mass. While he was a holy and devout man, he
harbored doubts about the Real Presence-doubts which were completely
resolved when the Host he consecrated during that Mass began to bleed.
He rushed to meet Pope Urban IV in Orvieto, bringing the Host to him.
The miracle was declared, and the Host is still on display at the
Cathedral of Orvieto today.
In response to both of the above, Pope Urban IV eventually published
a Bull, Transiturus, in A.D. 1264, which made this Feast a part of the
Different customs surrounded the Feast of Corpus Christi dating back
to the time of the Middle Ages. These included pageants,
processions and wreaths. In America
towns and bodies of water were named in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.
Especially favored was the attendance of children dressed as angels.
Already in 1496, at the great children’s procession in
Florence, Savonarola had all of them appear in
white or garbed as angels. This custom quickly spread all over
Europe in the following centuries. Children dressed as
the nine choirs of angels marched before the Blessed Sacrament while
other “angels” strewed flowers in front of the Eucharistic Lord.
At the time when the feast of
was instituted St. Thomas Aquinas lived and taught. He was considered
the greatest philosopher theologian in the Church. But in his day the
physical sciences had not progressed enough to know about the makeup of
matter. Molecules and atoms had not yet been discovered. So, for
matter consisted of what one could observe with the eye. And what was
observed? That there were two basic elements to all matter: the
appearance and the reality. The appearance is what a thing looked like:
its shape, size, weight, color, etc. The other was the reality, what a
thing is, apart from its appearance, before the consecration of the
Mass, the bread and wine appear and really are bread and wine. After the
words of Christ, at the Consecration, the bread and wine continue to
appear as bread and wine, but, in reality they are the reality of the
Body and Blood of Jesus. This happened at the Last Supper, the night
before Jesus died. The Apostles saw, heard and touched Jesus sitting
with them. He took unleavened bread, said: This is my body, and now held
in His bodily hands His own Body.
puts it this way in the “sequence” of the Mass: Man cannot understand
this, cannot perceive it; but a lively faith affirms that the change,
which is outside the natural course of thing, takes place. Under the
different species, which are now signs only and not their own reality,
there lies his wonderful realities. His body is our food, his blood is