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 2024, it is celebrated on June 2.

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 2024, the National Eucharistic Congress is being celebrated. The revival is aimed at increasing understanding of what the Eucharist really means and how it can be more fully celebrated, received, adored, and lived.

Pray the Eucharistic Revival Corpus Christi Novena

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. 

Corpus Christi Parish, Waterville

Corpus Christi Parish will celebrate its Parish Feast Day on Sunday, June 2, following the 9 a.m. Mass with a procession with the Holy Eucharist from Notre Dame du Perpetual Secours Church at 116 Silver Street in Waterville to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for Benediction. All parishioners are invited to join in this procession. Following the procession, all are invited to the Notre Dame Church Hall for a reception sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

Holy Family Parish, Greenville

Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 2, rather than 8 a.m. at Holy Family Church, 145 Pritham Avenue in Greenville, and will be followed by a eucharistic procession at 11 a.m.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Auburn

An hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament will be held following the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 2, at Sacred Heart Church, 8 Sacred Heart Place in Auburn.

Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Bar Harbor

The Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord will hold a eucharistic procession on June 2, following the 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Redeemer Church, 56 Mount Desert Street in Bar Harbor.

Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes

Following the 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress Street in Portland, there will be a eucharistic procession to St. Peter Church on 72 Federal Street and then to St. Louis Church on 279 Danforth Street, before concluding at Sacred Heart Church on 65 Mellen Street at approximately 2:30 p.m. Following the procession, there will be a picnic in Deering Oaks Parish.

Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston

In celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 2, parishioners and clergy from Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston will participate in a eucharistic procession down Sabattus Street in the city. The procession will begin at Holy Family Church, located at 607 Sabattus Street, at 12:30 p.m., continue down Sabattus Street for about a mile, and conclude at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul, located at 122 Ash Street. It is estimated the procession will arrive at the basilica around 2 p.m.

At the basilica, Father Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, will offer a blessing for the cities of Lewiston, Lisbon Falls, and Sabattus, the communities served by the parish.

St. Joseph Parish, Ellsworth

St. Joseph Parish will hold a eucharistic procession following the June 2, 8 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church, 231 Main Street in Ellsworth

St. Joseph Parish, Farmington

A eucharistic procession will be held on Corpus Christi Sunday following the 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Church, 133 Middle Street in Farmington.

St. Mary of the Visitation Parish, Houlton

St. Mary of the Visitation Parish will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi with a procession through downtown Houlton on Sunday, June 2, immediately following the Sunday 9 a.m. Mass at the church located at 110 Military Street in Houlton. That will be the only Mass at St. Mary the Visitation that day, replacing the regularly scheduled 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. Please consider joining in this witness to our devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist. A light lunch will follow.

St. Peter the Fisherman Parish, Machias

St. Peter the Fisherman Parish will hold a Corpus Christi procession on Sunday, June 2, following the 8:30 a.m. Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 8 Free Street in Machias. There will be exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the church, and then the Blessed Sacrament will be carried in procession from the front of the church down to the lower parking lot, while the Rosary is recited. Parishioners will then process back to the church for Benediction.

St. Rose of Lima Parish, Jay

A eucharistic procession will be held on Corpus Christi Sunday following the 8:30 a.m. at St. Rose of Lima Church, 1 Church Street in Jay.

Stella Maris Parish, Bucksport

Stella Maris Parish will hold a eucharistic procession on June 2, following the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 64 Franklin Street in Bucksport.