THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI (LATIN FOR BODY OF CHRIST), ALSO KNOWN AS CORPUS DOMINI, celebrates Catholic tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Here. the village band arrives for Mass under the festooned Riesling grape vines.
BY TRADITION, CATHOLICS IN GERMANY’S FAMOUS RHINE VALLEY take part in a Corpus Christi procession through the cobblestone streets near their parish church following Mass.
EVEN THOSE UNACCUSTOMED TO CHURCH-GOING will make it a point to attend Mass on Corpus Christi. Like most Catholics, however, they are likely to have no idea what it is about.
LOCAL FIFE & DRUM CORPS FORMS AN HONOR GUARD FOR THE BLESSED SACRAMENT: Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century Norbertine canoness, is said to be the originator. Orphaned at the age of five, Juliana was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns at the convent and leprosarium of Mont-Cornillon, where she developed a special veneration for the Blessed Sacrament.
IN 1208, JULIANA REPORTED HER FIRST VISION OF CHRIST in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. Juliana’s vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it secret until she eventually told her confessor. He relayed it to the bishop, who instituted the feast in Belgium. More than 100 years later, in 1317, it became a universal feast of the Church.
THE CORPUS CHRISTI HYMNS SUNG ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE THE WORK OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, the great Catholic theologian. Called the ‘Angelic’ Doctor of the Church, Aquinas was an Italian who lived, wrote and taught in the 1200s.
PAPAL FLAGS AND FLOWERS ADORN VILLAGE HOUSES: The hymn this great Dominican composed for Vespers of Corpus Christi, Pange Lingua, is also used on Holy (Maundy) Thursday during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose.
‘JESUS MY LOVE’ ON A CATHOLIC FAMILY FRONT DOOR STEP: The last two verses of Pange Lingua are the Tantum Ergo, sung at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
SADLY, MOST OF THE LAITY IN THE PROCESSION ARE QUITE OLD, as Germany’s Church labors under the deleterious effects of decades of progressivism: declining population, apostasy and indifference.
‘HAPPINESS IN FAITH’ on the flower carpet traditional for Corpus Christi before the street altar where the procession halts.