Facts About Coptic Christianity

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Corpus Christi is a festival in honour of the Eucharist and is observed on Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

Fact 1. The name ‘œCorpus Christi’ is Latin for ‘œthe body of Christ.’ This festival is celebrated by Roman Catholics  to proclaim the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ during Mass.

Fact 2.  Corpus Christi was inspired by the religious experience of a Belgian nun known as St. Juliana, who dreamt of the Church under a full moon. The moon had a black spot.  She had a vision of Christ explaining to her the symbolic meaning behind the dream. The moon represented the festivals currently celebrated by the church whereas the black spot indicated the lack of a festival to celebrate the Eucharist.

Fact 3.  The feast was established throughout the Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264 with a mass and office written by St. Thomas Aquinas. It includes five  hymns, including Panis Angelicus.  Prior to this, there had been no universal festival to mark the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Fact 4.  In Catholic countries, the festival is celebrated with a procession that carries the consecrated wafer through the streets.

Fact 5. During his papacy, Pope John Paul II led an annual Corpus Christi procession from St Peter’s Square in the Vatican to the streets of Rome.

Fact 6. In Portugal, it is a major religious observance and is known as  Dia de Corpo de Deus since medieval times. In the city of Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, a flower-petal carpet almost three quarters of a mile in length is made. There will be a procession consisting of high-ranking clergy and red-robed priests, followed by communicants passing over this carpet.

Fact 7. In Germany, Corpus Christi is celebrated with the sacrament carried throughout the villages.

Fact 8.  In Switzerland, the festival is observed with elaborate processions of clergy in their best robes, people in regional costumes, and soldiers in historic uniforms walking over carpets of flowers.

Fact 9. In Mexico, there are small shrines set up along the  procession’s path, covered with a lace trimmed altar cloth and decorated with candles, flowers and garlands. Another custom is the flying pole dance where five men dance on a tall pole.

Fact 10. Corpus Christi is a public holiday in predominantly Catholic countries such as Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Poland, Portugal, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is not a federal holiday in countries, such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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