The Corpus Christi procession celebrating the body of Christ was held at Cleveland’s St. Emeric Church on June 11, 2023. Since the apostolic times, the Sacred Host has been lifted up at some point in the sacred liturgy. In those ancient times, the elevation happened as an act of veneration, immediately before receiving Holy Communion. However, it was not until the 12th century that the elevation at the consecration was introduced, mainly because people desired to see the Eucharist at that time. Subsequently, bells were rung for the consecration of the Eucharist as well, so that those near the church could at least run into the church at this moment and that those who had to stay at home could pray especially at this time.
The special veneration of the Eucharist received a further boost with the visions of Blessed Julianna of Liège in 1209. Slowly, the official Church also embraced the essence of the vision – the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi and made such decision following the famous Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena in 1263. A Czech priest on a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, celebrated a Mass in the Church of St. Christina in Bolsena (115km north of Rome). At the moment of consecration, he was in doubt whether the bread and wine would indeed become the Body and Blood of Christ. Then the priest was astonished: drops of blood had fallen from the broken Host onto the corporal. With great reverence the relic was carried to the nearby Orvieto, the town where Pope Urban IV had been staying at that time. Through the papal bull Transiturus on 8 September 1264, he proclaimed the feast of the Corpus Christi to be held on the first Thursday after the end of the Pentecost Octave.
Tradition has it that St Thomas Aquinas wrote the liturgy for the feast. At Mass, from the moment of consecration onwards, the body and blood of Jesus is present under species of bread and wine. This presence remains there as long as the host still has the appearance of a bread (which includes even the crumbs). That is why we repose and guard the remaining consecrated hosts in the Tabernacle, and the lit sanctuary lamp, at times also called everlasting light, indicates the presence of Jesus Christ. We pay homage to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament by genuflecting.
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