A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Corpus Christi (Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord, Dies Sanctissimi Corporis et Sanguinis Domini Iesu Christi). Roman Catholic Solemnity, Western Orthodox Festival and Anglican Day of Thanksgiving for the celebration of the institution of the elements of the Eucharist (Mass). The act of Jesus in instituting the celebration of Holy Communion was observed on the I April Maundy Thursday in a sombre atmosphere leading to Good Friday. The feast of Corpus Christi was proposed by St Thomas Aquinas in order to create a feast focussed solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasising the joy of the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Normally, the feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday and, at the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally in a monstrance display vessel. The procession is followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a noted Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, beginning at the Archbasilica of St John Lateran and passing to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. As many Protestants denied the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist other than as a merely symbolic or spiritual presence, the celebration of the feast was suppressed in Protestant churches during the Reformation, except for in Lutheranism which maintained the confession of the Real Presence. At present, some Protestant denominations do not recognise the feast day, the Church of England having abolished it in 1548 but later reintroduced it. Most Anglican churches now observe Corpus Christi, sometimes as the Thanksgiving for Holy Communion. In Medieval Europe, Corpus Christi was a time for the performance of mystery plays, in the case of York for some 200 years until suppressed in the Protestant Reformation. In the southern highlands of the Cusco Region of Peru, the festival of Quyllurit’i is held before Corpus Christi, normally attracting as many as 10,000 pilgrims to mark the return in the sky of the Pleiades constellation, known in the Quechua language as Qullqa (storehouse) as it is associated with the upcoming harvest and New Year. Corpus Christi is a public holiday in some countries with a predominantly Catholic population. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
Prayer Most Holy and Almighty God, we thank You and praise You for giving us the most precious Body and Blood of Your only Son, Jesus Christ. Through the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion we are able to nourish our bodies and souls. We thank You for having made Yourself our food and for uniting us with You in this beautiful Sacrament. Amen
St Charles Lwanga and Companions (1860-86). Lutheran Commemoration of 3 Martyrs of Uganda between 1886 and 1977. Charles (Kaloli) Lwanga was born in the Kingdom of Buganda and was a Ugandan convert to the Catholic Church martyred for his faith. A member of the Baganda tribe, he served in the court of the King of Buganda and often protected boys in his charge from the King’s sexual advances. Lwanga was baptised at 25 but the King felt that Christianity undermined his authority and insisted that Christian converts abandon their new faith, executing many Anglicans and Catholics between 1885 and 1887. In 1886, Lwanga led a group of colleagues who declared their fidelity to their religion, upon which the King condemned them to death. The day for the execution was 3 June and Lwanga was separated from the others by the Guardian of the Sacred Flame for private execution and as he was being burnt at 26 said to the Guardian: “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.” 12 Catholic boys and men and 9 Anglicans were burnt alive and another Catholic was clubbed to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, his body being thrown into the furnace to be burned along with those of Lwanga and the others. The Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs was built at the site of the executions and serves as their shrine. Venerated in Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. The Brothers of St Charles Lwanga Senior (Bannakaroli Brothers) were founded in 1927 as an indigenous religious congregation of Ugandan men committed to providing education to the disadvantaged youth of their country. Major shrine Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo. Patron of African Catholic Youth Action, converts, torture victims. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
Naomh Caoimhín (St Kevin of Glendalough, Cóemgen, Coemgenus) (c498-618). Roman Catholic Feast Day commemorating death of noble Irish pupil of St Petroc of Cornwall in Leinster, an ascetic and the founder and first Abbot of Glendalough Abbey in County Wicklow, now one of the most important sites of monastic ruins in Ireland. After ordination, Kevin moved to the isolated Glendalough, the Glen of two Lakes, to avoid the company of his followers and lived for 7 years as a hermit in an ancient partially-man-made cave, only large enough for sleeping, now known as St Kevin’s Bed, to which he was led by an angel. His companions were the animals and birds all around him. He went barefoot and spent his time in prayer. Disciples were soon attracted to Kevin and a further settlement enclosed by a wall, called Kevin’s Cell, was established nearer the lough. By 540, Saint Kevin’s fame as a teacher and holy man had spread and in time his foundation at Glendalough grew into a renowned seminary of saints and scholars and the parent of several other monasteries. In 544, Kevin went to the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath to visit the holy Abbots Sts Columba, Comgall and Cannich and then proceeded to Clonmacnoiseto to retire into solitude for 4 years, only returning to Glendalough at the earnest entreaty of his monks. Until his death, Kevin presided over his Glendalough monastery, fasting, praying and teaching. Glendalough, with its 7 churches, became one of the chief pilgrimage destinations in Ireland. The Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney’s St Kevin and the Blackbird relates the story of Kevin holding out his hand with trance-like stillness whilst a blackbird built a nest in it and laid eggs that hatched, for the chicks to fledge. Venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church (cultus confirmation). Eastern Orthodox Feast Day 16 June. Patron of blackbirds, Archdiocese of Dublin, Glendalough, Kilnamanagh. Image: catholicfaithstore.com.