THURSDAY, JUNE 7: Relatively few American communities will see colorful processions fill the streets for Corpus Christi, but around the Christian world, each year, sparkling vestments, canopies and elaborately dressed pilgrims carry the Eucharist into the streets. (Wikipedia has details.)
According to Catholic tradition: A young girl with a particular veneration for the Blessed Sacrament began receiving visions of Christ in the 13th century; for nearly two decades following, these visions continued. Finally, Juliana of Liege told her confessor of her visions and, at the order of the local bishop, a celebration of Corpus Christi was held. A short time later, Pope Urban IV received information about a Eucharistic miracle that included a bleeding consecrated host; a short time later, the feast of Corpus Christi was widespread. St. Thomas Aquinas composed the official liturgy for the feast. (Get a Catholic point of view at Catholic Online.)
Of course, millions of Christians recognize the miracle of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist every Sunday. Throughout all Christian denominations now, beliefs about this sacrament vary. But Corpus Christi shows a high-church veneration for Eucharist in many lands. Want to see more images? Check out fascinating photos—along with photos of some other Christian feasts—at The Atlantic.)
Traditional Catholic countries still acknowledge Corpus Christi as a nationwide holiday, although the world’s economic woes are forcing many countries to rethink taking this day off work. This year, for example, Portugal’s government announced that it will eliminate four holidays to “boost its economy” and aid in the recession. (CNN’s Belief Blog has the story.) The Vatican approved this ruling.