The Feast of Corpus Christi shows that who God puts in your path really matters.
The celebration of the feast involves two saints, a pope, and the distinction of being the first-ever feast day required by a pope!
It was so important that Pope Urban VI assigned the papal theologian St. Thomas Aquinas to compose new liturgical texts for the feast.
The processions and celebrations we see today shows how God uses holy alliances to promote His will.
Corpus Christi and Divine Providence
Corpus Christ is also called The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ and translates from Latin to “Body of Christ.”
The feast is an amazing example of the Catholic teaching on Divine Providence: that all events, even the most personal decisions of human beings, are part of God’s eternal plan.
The hand of providence was behind the pope’s 1264 declaration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi. That’s because before he was pope he knew the saint who requested the feast day!
Corpus Christi and St. Julianna
St. Juliana, a little-known Norbertine canoness from modern-day Belgium, spent her life advocating for a feast to honor and celebrate Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
She was known as St. Juliana of Leige (1193-1258) who received private revelations from Christ.
One of those was a recurring vision of the Catholic Church as a full moon with one dark spot. The spot is interpreted as the absence of a specific reverence to the Holy Eucharist. But it wasn’t until she gained the support of Jacques Pantaléon, at the time Archdeacon of Liège, that her efforts paid off. Pantaléon became Pope Urban IV who established the Feast of Corpus Christi.
How St. Thomas Aquinas Gets Involved
Since Pope Urban IV believed deeply in the visions of St. Juliana he requested Aquinas ‘ help. St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the great theologians of the Eucharist.
While Aquinas wrote many hymns for the feast, this is one provided by the Lectionary.
The hymn, Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem is extensive.
This is the shorter version provided by the Lectionary.
Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.
Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.
Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.
Source: Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition
All About the Feast of Corpus Christi
The feast day was originally fixed to the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, and still is in many countries. However, in 1969, Pope St. Paul VI gave episcopal conferences the option to transfer the feast to the following Sunday, and that option is currently practiced in the United States.
Below is a PDF cheat sheet about the Feast of Corpus Christi: