The feast of Corpus Christi, “the Body of Christ,” is celebrated the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, 60 days after Easter, or, in countries where it is not a holy day of obligation, on the following Sunday.
This feast day is a time to reflect on the real presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine we receive. As we honor Him, we are reminded of how Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. It is not just a symbol or memory; it is Him, in body, blood, soul, and divinity. This mystery goes beyond our understanding.
Where does it come from?
The feast’s origins began with two separate Eucharistic miracles, which is a moment of divine intervention that confirms the faith in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. They were: the vision of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon and the Miracle at Bolsena.
The vision of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon
St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, who lived from 1222–1258 had a vision of the Church under the appearance of a full moon which had one dark spot. Christ showed her during the vision that the moon represented the Church at that time and the black spot symbolized the fact that a great feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament was missing from the liturgical calendar. She confessed this vision to Bishop Robert de Thorete, then Bishop of Liège, and Jacques Pantaléon, who later became Pope Urban IV. Bishop Robert. He decided to call a synod in 1246 which authorized the celebration of a feast dedicated to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – Corpus Christi – to be held in the diocese in the following year.
The Miracle at Bolsena
On the other hand, Fr Pietro da Praga had grown lukewarm in his faith and started doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. One day in 1263, while he was celebrating Mass in the Church of Santa Cristina in Bolsena, the precious Blood of Our Lord flowed from the Host at the breaking of the Bread, covering the altar cloth, corporal, and the floor. Pope Urban IV, who was residing at Orvieto at the time, ordered that the precious cloth, covered with the precious Blood, was to be brought to the Church of St Mary in Orvieto where it is still venerated even today. In 1264 he published the Bull “Transiturus de hoc mundo”, in which he ordered the annual celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in the universal Church.
In the Last Supper, Jesus selflessly gave Himself for us. As a friend wants to be present when they leave, so does Jesus. He left us His own body and blood as a remembrance of Himself.
The Eucharist is the most precious gift He has left us with. His Living Body calls us to imitate this self-giving love in our lives and be there for others. Just as He gave us the Eucharist to stay present in our lives, so are we called to be present for others. Also, the Eucharist reminds us of our unity as the Body of Christ. Jesus is the Head of the Church and we are his body. When we receive communion, we are all forming a union of brethren that long to live as Christ did.
I invite you to approach the Eucharist with reverence and gratitude, aware of the incredible gift it is. As we carry His presence within us, let’s reflect Christ’s love and mercy to everyone we meet. May we always cherish and seek to understand the mystery of the Holy Eucharist throughout our lives.