JERUSALEM – On Thursday, June 3, 2021, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over the Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which is celebrated annually on the Thursday after Holy Trinity Sunday, in solemn commemoration of the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
The Feast, which is also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, was concelebrated by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Fr. Rafic Nahra, Fr. Jamal Khader, Fr. Yacoub Rafidi, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali, Fr. Firas Abedrabbo, and a number of Latin Patriarchal priests and Franciscan friars, in the presence of several Religious Men and Women and the faithful.
In his homily, Patriarch Pizzaballa referred to the “same Gospel that the Church proclaims on the evening of Holy Thursday, in memory of the last supper, which brings us back to the days of the Passion: Jesus offers his body and his blood, that is his life; he offers it in an extreme gesture of love, as a sign of covenant, as food for salvation, as a principle of new life for everyone.”
The Patriarch added: “The love that we celebrate in the mystery, little by little has also become love that we celebrate in life, a love that has acquired during the time the flavor of the concrete experience of life, a bread that together with wheat and water, has also acquired the taste of sweat and tears, but that for this reason it becomes more "real", because it unites the life to the mystery we celebrate and thus the Eucharist becomes true, real offering of life and not just a ritual. The Eucharist is not only an occasional gesture, a moment in the life of Jesus and ours: it is rather the style, the habitual way of life. A way of being in life by taking it in your hands, as it is, to offer it as a gift, to donate it.”
Patriarch Pizzaballa concluded by praying so that the Eucharist be the source of the witness of love and encounter, despite everything, and to make our Church capable of building and looking forward with confidence.
This year, on the occasion of Corpus Christi, the Diocese of Jerusalem also celebrates the silver and golden jubilees of priestly ordination of some priests and friars. Celebrating their silver jubilee (25 years) are Fr. Ibrahim Shomali, Fr. Bashir Bader, Fr. Yacoub Rafidi and Fr. Gabriel Romanelli. Two are celebrating their golden jubilee: Fr. Farah Hijzin and Fr. Raymond Camilleri, ofm.
The Feast of Corpus Christi dates back to the beginning of the 13th century, when Roberto de Thourotte, Bishop of Liège (Belgium), ordered the feast to be celebrated in his diocese in 1246, persuaded by St. Juliana, prioress of Mont Cornillon near Liège, who had experienced a vision in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The first celebration occurred at St. Martin’s Church in Liège that same year.
The feast did not spread until 1261, when Jacques Pantaléon, former Archdeacon of Liège, became Pope Urban IV. In 1263, he instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and ordered the whole church to observe the feast, after a village priest in Bolsena (Italy) and his congregation witnessed a Eucharistic miracle of bleeding of the Blessed Sacrament.
The feast became truly universal only after the papal bull of Urban IV was included in the collection of laws known as the Clementine decrees, compiled under Pope Clement V, but promulgated only by his successor Pope John XXII in 1317. By the mid-14th century, the feast was generally recognized, and in the 15th century, it became, in effect, one of the principal feasts of the church.
Pictures: Fadi Abedrabbo and Media Office of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem