The Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

This Sunday, June 2, we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. Around the year 1209, the Augustinian nun, Juliana of Liège, claimed that she had visions that she and the clergy with whom she consulted interpreted as a divine mandate to establish a new feast in honor of the Eucharist. In 1247, the arch-deacon of Liege, Jacques Pantaleon, convinced the bishop of the diocese, Robert of Turotte, to institute a diocesan celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi. This diocesan feast immediately drew the attention of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans). The Parisian master and the Dominican cardinal, Hugh of Saint Cher, was instrumental in bringing the new feast to Germany and eastern Europe in his official capacity as cardinal-legate to Germany. The Dominican order itself added the new feast to its liturgical calendar in 1304.

When Jacques Pantaleon was elected pope and took the name of Urban IV he extended the feast to the universal Church in the bull Transiturus de hoc mundo (1264).  This was, in fact, the first papally sanctioned universal feast in the history of the Latin Church. However, the untimely death of the pope led to its uneven reception in various regions of Europe. Durandus of Mende – himself a former papal chaplain and curial official under Urban IV – gives a brief account of the institution of Corpus Christ in his Rationale for the Divine Offices: “And it should be known that Pope Urban IV decreed that a feast of Corpus Christi be celebrated the fifth day after this Sunday [i.e. the first Sunday after Pentecost].”

During the pontificate of the Avignon pope, John XXII (1316-1334), when the collection of papal decretals of his predecessor, Clement V, was promulgated (the Clementines of 1317), the Feast of Corpus Christi finally attained the enduring status of a universal feast in the Latin Church.

From: The Oxford History of Christian Worship

This weekend’s readings are 1) Gen 14:18-20; Psalm 110:1,2,3,4; 2)1 Cor 11:23-26; Luke 9:1b-17

After the proclamation of the 2nd reading you will hear the chanting of a Sequence. A Sequence is a syllabic chant in the form of a liturgical poem, used as a hymn of joy. At one time five thousand existed but most were abolished at the Council of Trent. Today only four are used; the two for Easter (Victimae Paschali Laudes) and Pentecost (Veni, Sancte Spiritus) are obligatory, the two for Corpus Christi (Lauda Sion) and Our Lady of Sorrows (Stabat Mater) are optional.  The Sequence precedes the Alleluia Verse.


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