Feast of Corpus Christi
"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. In 2023, it is celebrated on June 11.
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.
Origins of the Feast Day
The origins of the Feast of Corpus Christi date back to the 13th century and Pope Urban IV, who was influenced by two separate occurrences.
The first was a vision experienced by Sister Juliana of Mont Cornillion, a nun from Belgium who, from an early age, had a great love for the Blessed Sacrament. She believed a special feast should be held in its honor and 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. The bishop began celebrating the feast in his diocese. The archdeacon would go on to become Pope Urban IV, who would become further convinced after witnessing a eucharistic miracle.
It took place outside of the little Italian town of Orvieto. A priest who experienced doubts regarding the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist was offering Mass at a small chapel, when suddenly the host began to bleed. Not sure what to do, he traveled to the neighboring city of Orvieto, where Pope Urban resided at that time. After hearing his account, the pope asked the bishop to investigate and to bring the blood-stained host back to Orvieto. The pope and a delegation met the bishop at his return and processed with the miraculous host to the cathedral, where the host remains to this day.
As word of the eucharistic miracle spread, a special feast day was designated, first locally, and then, in 1254, Pope Urban issued a papal bull establishing the feast for the universal Church, placing it on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Unfortunately, Pope Urban died one month later, and the feast would not become more widely celebrated until the 14th century.
The Feast of Corpus Christi and the Eucharistic Revival
The National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year effort to increase missionary discipleship, was launched on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2022, and in 2023, the feast will mark the beginning of the second phase of the revival. In this second year, the emphasis will be on parish-based efforts to increase understanding of what the Eucharist really means and how it can be more fully celebrated, received, adored, and lived.
Eucharistic Processions and Celebrations
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. To bring the Blessed Sacrament into the public provides a unique opportunity for him to move people in ways that we do not know and may never understand. It is also an opportunity to unite ourselves to his prayer to the Father that all people find salvation and fulfillment in him, especially praying that his grace move the hearts of the people. Many also spend time in eucharistic adoration on the solemnity. You'll find a list of some parish celebrations below. Unless otherwise noted, all will take place on either Saturday, June 10, or Sunday, June 11.
Christ the Divine Mercy Parish, East Millinocket
Fr. Dominic Savio will celebrate Mass on Saturday, June 10, at 4 p.m. at St. Martin of Tours Church, located on 19 Colby Street in Millinocket. Following the Mass, the Knights of Columbus will lead a eucharistic procession.
Corpus Christi Parish, Waterville
An outdoor Mass will be held at the Grotto at St. John the Baptist Church on 26 Monument Street in Winslow on Sunday, June 11, at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome but you are asked to bring your own chair. In case of rain, the Mass will be celebrated inside the church. All are also invited to join Corpus Christi Parish in praying a novena on June 2-10. You can either pray on your own or join the Fraternity of Secular Franciscans via Zoom each night at 7 p.m.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Auburn
Father Robert Vaillancourt will lead an hour of eucharistic adoration on Sunday, June 11, at 3 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church on 8 Sacred Heart Place in Auburn.
Parish of the Holy Eucharist, Falmouth
The Parish of the Holy Eucharist will hold a Corpus Christi procession around the town of Yarmouth following the 8 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Church, located on 326 Main Street, on Sunday, June 11. Breakfast will be provided in the parish hall following the procession. The church will also be open for adoration all night starting on Saturday, June 10, at 5 p.m. through Sunday, June 11, at 7:45 a.m. Prayers will be offered each hour. Eucharistic guardians are needed. To sign up, please contact Kim Lovett at [email protected].
Parish of the Holy Savior, Rumford
A eucharistic procession will be held at the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11, at St. Athanasius & St. John Church, 126 Maine Avenue in Rumford.
Parish of the Precious Blood, Caribou
A eucharistic procession will be held on Sunday, June 11, prior to the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Catherine Church on 24 McManus Street in Washburn.
Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, Old Town
A eucharistic procession will be held following the Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Family Church on 429 Main Street in Old Town. The procession will be around the block. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will precede Mass starting at 8 a.m.
Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes
A eucharistic procession through Portland will be held following the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 307 Congress Street in Portland. The procession will stop at all churches on the peninsula (about a 2.5 mile walk).
Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston
A eucharistic holy hour will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, in the chapel of the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul on 122 Ash Street in Lewiston. A reception with light refreshments will follow.
St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Westbrook
St. Anthony of Padua Parish will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi on Sunday, June 11, with a day of healing at St. Anne Church on 299 Main Street in Gorham. The day will begin with Mass at 8 a.m., followed by adoration at 9:30 a.m. A eucharistic procession will be held at 10:30 a.m., preceding an 11 a.m. Mass. Following the Mass, adoration will be held from 12:15 p.m. to 4 p.m., concluding with Benediction.
St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, Camden
A eucharistic procession and Benediction will follow the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Bernard Church on 150 Broadway in Rockland; the Sunday 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 81 Court Street in Belfast; and the Sunday 11 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Good Hope Church on 7 Union Street in Camden. All events are set for Sunday, June 11.
St. John Paul II Parish, Scarborough
A eucharistic procession will be held following the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11, at Holy Cross Church on 124 Cottage Road in South Portland.
St. Joseph Parish, Farmington
A eucharistic procession will be held following the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church on 133 Middle Street in Farmington. An extended period of eucharistic adoration will be offered at the church immediately following the procession until Benediction at 4:45 p.m.
St. Mary of the Visitation Parish, Houlton
A eucharistic procession will be held following the Sunday, June 11, 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Visitation Church on 110 Military Street in Houlton.
St. Peter the Fisherman Parish, Machias
A eucharistic procession will be held following the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11, at St. Michael Church on 51 Elm Street in Cherryfield.
St. Rose of Lima Parish, Jay
Eucharistic adoration will be offered at St. Rose of Lima Church on 1 Church Street in Jay on Sunday, June 11, following the 8:30 a.m. Mass until noon.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish, Sanford
Eucharistic adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be held after the 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Family Church on 66 North Avenue in Sanford.