The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is celebrated on June 8, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Many dioceses, however, have transferred the celebration of this feast to Sunday, June 11, 2023.
Table of Contents
- History and Background of Corpus Christi
- Meaning of Corpus Christi
- Corpus Christi Prayers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Related Reading
History and Background of Corpus Christi
After Christ’s Resurrection on Easter, the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the celebration of God in Three Persons on Trinity Sunday, we celebrate this solemnity of Jesus among us in the Eucharist.
Pope Urban IV instituted Corpus Christi in 1264 by the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo after it was first introduced in Liège, France, by Bishop Robert Torote. Though it was the incredible eucharistic visions of St. Juliana de Cornillon, also known as St Juliana of Liège, that inspired this solemnity:
When Juliana was 16 she had her first vision which recurred subsequently several times during her Eucharistic adoration. Her vision presented the moon in its full splendour, crossed diametrically by a dark stripe. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth, the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast for whose institution Juliana was asked to plead effectively: namely, a feast in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to increase in faith, to advance in the practice of the virtues and to make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.Pope Benedict XVI, November 17 2010 General Audience
St. Juliana kept this revelation as a joyful secret for 20 years, eventually sharing it with two other women religious and a priest after becoming a prioress. A later Archdeacon in Lièges, Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes, “was won over to the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Christi during his ministry.” Jacques would later be known as Pope Urban IV.
With the institution of the Solemnity of Corpus Christ in 1264, Pope Urban IV commissioned church doctor St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the texts for the Liturgical Office of Corpus Christi. The texts include the Sacris Solemnis, Panis Angelicus, Adoro Te Devote, Pange Lingua, and O Salutaris. Reflecting on the text, Pope Benedict XVI said,
“They are masterpieces, still in use in the Church today, in which theology and 3 poetry are fuse. These texts pluck at the heartstrings in an expression of praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the mind, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the Living and Real Presence of Jesus, of his Sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.”
On Hallow, pray with these same texts by St. Thomas Aquinas reimagined, arranged, and recorded exclusively by Matt Maher for Hallow. Blending the original Latin lyrics with English translations, this contemporary album, Adoration, Vol. 1, is truly so beautiful for prayer and worship.
Meaning of Corpus Christi
At the heart of this solemnity is the celebration of Christ’s constant presence here on earth, fully alive in the Eucharist. On Corpus Christ in 2022, Pope Francis reflected on the discreet yet powerful nature of the Eucharist accounted in the Gospels:
The miracle of the loaves and fish does not happen in a spectacular way, but almost discreetly, like the wedding at Cana — the bread increases as it passes from hand to hand. And as the crowd eats, they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything. This is the Lord present in the Eucharist. He calls us to be citizens of Heaven, but at the same time, he takes into account the journey we have to face here on earth. If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.Pope Francis
This is the true meaning of the Eucharist – that He is here, with us. As St. Thérèse of Lisieux once wrote in a letter to a friend, “Oh, my darling, think, then, that Jesus is there in the Tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone.”
Learn More: Hallow’s Guide to The Eucharist: Adoration and Holy Communion Prayers
Corpus Christi Prayers
Lectio Divina: Gospel Reading – June 11, 2023
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Is there a particular phrase, word, or image that stands out to you in this reading? What does it mean for us that Jesus is the “Living Bread”?
Meditate: I Am Here Meditations
Hallow and the Archdiocese of Detroit partnered to launch the I Am Here campaign to support the National Eucharistic Revival in the U.S. Catholic Church in 2022. Find the beautiful and affirming “I Am” meditations for Eucharistic Adoration on Hallow, featuring prayers for seeking God amidst loneliness, heartache, anger, tiredness, and prayers leading you to peace, patience, and trust in Jesus. The I Am meditations are led by Julianne Stanz and Bishop Andrew Cozzens. The following is a beautiful meditation on the first I Am meditation, “I Am God:”
Be Still and Know. Stillness of heart and mind prepares us for conversations with God. When we are present and still, the Sacred Scriptures tell us that we will have knowledge or wisdom of God. Often we are so busy in our conversations preparing to respond that we forget to be still and be present to what is spoken and what is unspoken. Many people today do not feel truly listened to. When we are listened to, we are not understood. We feel that nobody really knows who we are or nobody cares enough to listen to us. But God knows you more than anyone else. He is listening. He is here.Meditation 1: Begin Here, with Julianne Stanz
Traditional Eucharistic Prayers
To call on Jesus and ask Him to draw near.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds conceal me.
Do not permit me to be parted from you.
From the evil foe protect me.
At the hour of my death call me
And bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.
A prayer for when you are unable to receive Communion.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and I unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
A Eucharistic hymn and prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring …”
Frequently Asked Questions – Corpus Christi
Traditionally known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi celebrates the gift of the Eucharist. Harkening back to the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the Wedding at Cana, and the Last Supper, this special day commemorates that with Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, He is always present with us, fully alive in the Eucharist.
Pope Urban IV instituted Corpus Christi in 1264 and commissioned church doctor St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the hymns for the first Corpus Christi Mass, including the “Pange Lingua.”
The Latin “Corpus Christi” translates to “Body of Christ” in English.
Historically, the Feast of Corpus Christi has always been celebrated the Thursday after Trinity Sunday – June 8 in 2023. Many dioceses, however, have transferred the celebration to Sunday, June 11, 2023.
Though it is a solemnity, Corpus Christi is not a holy day of obligation. With the transfer of the celebration to Sunday, June 11, 2023, Catholics are already expected and encouraged to attend Mass that day.