Origin of the Feast of Corpus Christi

Here’s a little history of this feast that has become our namesake:

The feast of Corpus Christi that we celebrate today is really the convergence of two separate events in the 13th century. The first is a Eucharistic miracle that can still be visited today in Orvieto, Italy. In 1263, a German priest, Fr. Peter of Prague, stopped in Italy to celebrate Mass on a pilgrimage to Rome. He was having some doubts regarding the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. During the consecration, blood started seeping from the host an onto the altar and the altar linens. This miracle was reported to Pope Urban IV, who was in the nearby town of Orvieto. The pope sent delegates to investigate the incident and to bring the blood-stained host and linens to him in Orvieto, where they are still displayed to this day in the Cathedral of Orvieto.

The second contemporaneous event was a series of visions reported by St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon in Belgium. It had been revealed to her to establish a liturgical feast for the Eucharist. After many failed attempts, she convinced the bishop, who later became Pope Urban IV, to create the feast of Corpus Christi to honor the gift of the Eucharist. Shortly after her death in 1258, the pope instituted Corpus Christi as a universal feast day, and celebrated it for the first time in 1264 in Orvieto, a year after the miracle in the nearby town of Bolsena.

Watch a video about the origin here: