By Rev. Fr. Petros Mwale (Mzuzu Diocese – MALAWI)
“Fr. Petros, why do Catholics make procession of the Eucharist on Corpus Christi (Chikuku)?” – Cosmas (Kobe Baracks – Zomba MALAWI).
Corpus Christi means in Latin, “the Body of Christ.” It is a Solemnity – a Feast of the highest rank in the Catholic Church – honoring the Holy Eucharist, with a special emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The Feast of Corpus Christi was not celebrated throughout the entire Catholic Church until the year 1264. But the history goes even deeper than that.
In 1208, St. Juliana of Liege a Catholic nun, experienced several visions, including one of Christ instructing her to plead for the institution of a feast to honor the Eucharist. She experienced these visions for 20 years, but kept them a secret. She finally told a priest about the visions, who in turn told the local bishop about them. She repeatedly petitioned the bishop to institute the feast, and in 1246, the feast was celebrated throughout the Diocese of Liege for the first time.
In 1264, Pope Urban IV issued a Papal bull, Transiturus de hoc mundo, in which the feast of Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Catholic Church. This came after Pope Urban IV had investigated claims of a Eucharistic Miracle in Bolsena, Italy, in 1263, in which it was reported that a Consecrated Host began to bleed.
WHY PROCESSION WITH THE EUCHARIST?
After Mass, another strong point of the day of Corpus Christi is the procession. In many cities it is customary to adorn the streets through which the faithful pass. For this colorful rugs are made and made with various materials such as paper, colored sawdust, Styrofoam, bottle caps, flowers, leaves and ground glass.
The procession signifies God’s presence in our world and in our lives and reminding us of our common pilgrimage to Heaven. Canon 944: “When it can be done in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, as a public witness of the veneration toward the Most Holy Eucharist, a procession is to be conducted through the public streets, especially on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
We can show our love and gratitude to Jesus by paying visits to Him in the Blessed Sacrament by attending Daily Mass, Benediction, making Holy Hours, and other practices. We must always genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament before we enter a pew. We should be careful to receive the Eucharist reverently – whether in the hand or on the tongue.
Receive my Priestly Blessings from St. Cecilia Catholic Parish (Mzuzu Diocese – Mpherembe)
Rev. Fr. Petros Mwale – Feedback: +265884150185 (WhatsApp only)
Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, Encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy (November 20, 1947). Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (December 4, 1963).
Subcommittee on the Third Millennium, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, A Book of Readings on the Eucharist: A Eucharistic Jubilee (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 2000).
Theological-Historical Commission for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, The Eucharist, Gift of Divine Life (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999)