"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.
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-Cornillon. 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.
In the United States, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. This year, it is on Sunday, June 3, 2018.
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.
Corpus Christi Parish, Waterville
Corpus Christi Parish will celebrate the parish’s feast day with 40 hours of adoration, starting on Thursday, May 31, at 8 a.m. and continuing until Saturday, June 2, at midnight, at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on Silver Street in Waterville.
The parish will then celebrate a special Mass on Sunday at 9 a.m. at Notre Dame Church, 116 Silver Street in Waterville. To bring the entire parish community together for the celebration, the Mass will be held in place of the 10 a.m. Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Winslow and the 10:30 a.m. Mass at Notre Dame. Following the Mass, a eucharistic procession will be held to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. After Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, participants are invited to return to the hall at Notre Dame Church for a reception.
Good Shepherd Parish & Southern Maine Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, Saco
A Corpus Christi celebration will begin with 10:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Father Joseph Manship at Most Holy Trinity Church, 271 Main Street in Saco. Eucharistic adoration will begin immediately following the Mass and will continue until 6 p.m. when there will be a Eucharistic Holy Hour with prayer and music. At the conclusion of the Holy Hour, there will be a eucharistic procession to the adoration chapel located at 27 Thornton Avenue in Saco.
Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston
On Sunday, June 3, Prince of Peace Parish will hold its annual Corpus Christi Procession, beginning at the conclusion of the 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul, 122 Ash Street in Lewiston. The procession will go down Ash Street, turn right on Blake Street, turn right on College Street, along Bartlett Street, and conclude in the basilica chapel with Benediction. If it is difficult for you to walk in the procession, you can take the elevator from the church to the basilica chapel at the end of Mass. The procession will join you there. This is an opportunity to give public witness to our faith in Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist and give your children a new experience of eucharistic devotion. In the event of rain, the procession will go directly from the 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, 26 East Main Street in Fort Kent.
St. Louis Parish, Portland
St. Louis Parish will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi with Mass on Sunday, June 3, at 11:30 a.m. at the church, located on 279 Danforth Street in Portland. The Mass will be followed by a community procession to four outdoor altars set up in the nearby neighborhood. The procession will be led by Father Claude Gendreau, who will carry the Blessed Sacrament to each altar where there will be prayers, readings, adoration, and singing.
St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Bangor
To enhance its Corpus Christi Liturgy celebrations, St. Paul the Apostle Parish will hold eucharistic adoration either before or after Masses at all six of its churches on the weekend of June 2-3, 2018. Eucharistic adoration will be held on Sunday at 8 a.m. at St. Gabriel Church, 435 South Main Street in Winterport; on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at St. John Church, 217 York Street in Bangor; on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 531 North Main Street in Brewer; on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and then before the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary Church, 767 Ohio Street in Bangor; on Sunday at 10 a.m. at St. Matthew Church, 70 Western Avenue in Hampden; and on Sunday at 5 p.m. at St. Teresa Church, 425 South Main Street in Brewer. Please remember to enter the churches in silence.