Corpus Christi

God always draws good from evil; victory from the jaws of defeat, and glory from the triumph of virtue over sin.

The story of the feast of Corpus Christ began with St. Julianna of Cornxillon who lived in Belgium in the 13th century. One night she had a vision of a beautiful full moon, but that had on it one dark spot.

A heavenly voice told her that the moon represented the Church. The dark spot, the voice told her, indicated that a feast was missing in the liturgical calendar – one in honour of the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Julianna reported the vision to the Archdeacon of Liège, Jacques Panteleon, and in 1246 the Bishop of Liège established the Feast of Corpus Christi, to be celebrated for the first time on June 5th, 1249 as a local feast only.

A few years later, in 1263, a priest was celebrating Mass near the town of Orvieto, Italy. He had traveled to Rome from Germany to ask for help overcoming his doubts regarding the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Now, on his return trip, he was overwhelmed by doubt once again at the moment of the consecration.

But when he elevated the Sacred Host for the adoration of the faithful, lo and behold! The host began to bleed drops of real blood. The priest and the faithful were astonished, and so the Mass was interrupted. The consecrated Host was wrapped in corporals and brought in procession to Orvieto. There, the bishop con- sulted with Pope Urban IV, who was none other than the former Bishop of Liège, Jacques de Panteleon. The miracle was confirmed, and the pope decided to establish the feast of Corpus Christi in the Universal Church. Legend has it that both St. Thom- as Aquinas and St. Bonaventure were commissioned to compile the sacred texts of the Mass and the Liturgy for the feast. When the two were about to appear before the pope and reviewing what the other had written, St. Bonaventure was so astonished at the beauty of St. Thomas’ writing that he threw his own manuscript into the fire. The pope was very pleased with the texts St. Thomas had provided, and apparently composed some of the Gregorian melodies for them himself, including the well-known Tantum Ergo melody. As a result, we have one of the most beautiful liturgical offices of the year – the feast of Corpus Christi. May it be for us the renewal of our Faith and our devotion for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.


“Sing, my tongue, the Saviour’s glory, Of His Flesh, the mystery sing; Of the Blood, all price exceeding, Shed by our Immortal King, Destined, for the world’s redemption, From a noble Womb to spring.”