"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." (John 6:55-56)
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as the Feast of Corpus Christi, is a celebration of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. On this day, we recall the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
In the United States, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, rather than on the Thursday. This year, it is on Sunday, June 23.
While the Last Supper is also commemorated on Holy Thursday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ focuses solely on the gift of the Eucharist. The mood is also more joyous than that felt on Holy Thursday, the day before Christ's passion and death.
The origins of the Feast of Corpus Christi date back to the 13th century and to a nun from Belgium, Sister Juliana of Mont Cornillion. From an early age, she had a great love for the Blessed Sacrament and believed a special feast should be held in its honor. She is said to have had a vision of the Church as a full moon with a dark spot, symbolizing the absence of the feast. She took her cause to Church leaders including the Bishop of Liege and the Archdeacon of the Cathedral of Liege, both of whom became convinced. The bishop began celebrating the feast in his diocese. The archdeacon would go on to become Pope Urban IV, and in 1254, he issued a papal bull establishing the feast for the universal Church, placing it on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Unfortunately, Pope Urban died just one month later, and the feast would not become more widely celebrated until the 14th century.
The feast is often marked by Eucharistic processions, during which the Blessed Sacrament is carried in a monstrance through the church and into the streets. Many also spend time in Eucharistic Adoration on the solemnity. You'll find a list of some parish celebrations below (all on June 23 unless noted).
Corpus Christi Parish, Waterville
Corpus Christi Parish will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the parish's feast day, with a Mass at 9 a.m. at Notre Dame Church on 116 Silver Street in Waterville. The Mass will be followed by a eucharistic procession to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for benediction with Fr. Patrick Finn, Fr. Daniel Baillargeon, and Fr. Jacques Dolbec. The parish's other regularly scheduled Sunday Masses will not be celebrated that day, so that the parish community can come together for the celebration.
Good Shepherd Parish, Saco
The Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Association of Southern Maine and Good Shepherd Parish are uniting to offer a day of prayer and eucharistic adoration to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph Church on 178 Elm Street at 11 a.m. Following the Mass, a eucharistic procession will be led by Fr. Brad Morin to Most Holy Trinity Church on 271 Main Street in Saco. An afternoon of eucharistic adoration will be held in the church. A Holy Hour, with adoration and benediction, will begin at 6 p.m. at Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Hour will be led by Fr. Joseph Manship. A closing procession will begin at 7 p.m. from the church to the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel on 27 Thornton Avenue in Saco.
Parish of the Holy Eucharist, Falmouth
An extended period of eucharistic adoration will be held at Sacred Heart Church, located on 326 Main Street in Yarmouth, following the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, June 22. Adoration will continue overnight, concluding with benediction prior to the 8 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 23. Prayers, litanies, the liturgy of the hours, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the rosary will be scheduled at various hours throughout the evening and overnight. If you have a particular devotion or ministry that you would like to pray for, please contact the parish at email@example.com.
Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston
The 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul in Lewiston will conclude with Prince of Peace Parish's annual Corpus Christi procession. The route will be down Ash Street, to Blake Street, to College Street, to Bartlett Street, and then to the basilica chapel, where there will be benediction. In case of rain, the procession will go directly from the basilica church to the chapel.
St. John Vianney Parish, Fort Kent
Weather permitting, there will be a solemn Corpus Christi procession following the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Louis Church on 26 East Main Street in Fort Kent. Coffee and donuts will be served in the church basement after the procession.
St. Joseph Parish, Bridgton
A eucharistic procession will follow the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on 857 Main Street in Fryeburg. A cookout will be held at the church after the procession.
St. Louis Parish, Portland
A traditional Corpus Christi outdoor procession will be held following a bilingual (Polish/English) celebration of Mass at 11:30 a.m. at St. Louis Parish on 279 Danforth Street in Portland. The Mass will be followed by a procession through the neighborhood with the Blessed Sacrament. Worshipers will stop at four outdoor altars, offering prayers and hymns in both Polish and English.