What Is Corpus Christi?
Corpus Christi is a festival that has been celebrated by many Christians, particularly the Catholic Church, in honor of the Eucharist since 1246. The name “Corpus Christi” is a Latin phrase that refers to the body of Christ. This event commemorates the Last Supper on the day before Jesus’ crucifixion, as described in the Bible. Corpus Christi is primarily celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church but it is also included in the calendar of some Anglican churches.
Corpus Christi is a moveable feast, celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, in countries where it is not a holy day of obligation, on the following Sunday. The earliest possible Thursday celebration falls on May 21 (as in 1818 and 2285), the latest on June 24 (as in 1943 and 2038). The Sunday celebrations occur three days later.
Corpus Christi is a public holiday in some countries with a predominantly Catholic population including, amongst others, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Haiti, (Jerusalem) Israel, parts of Germany, Grenada, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, parts of Puerto Rico, San Marino, Spain, parts of Switzerland, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, parts of the United States, and Venezuela.
Many Christians in the United States, particularly those of the Catholic faith, observe Corpus Christi in honor of the Holy Eucharist. It is also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ, as well as the Day of Wreaths. In commemoration of the Last Supper on the day before Jesus’ crucifixion many people, especially those who belong to the Catholic denomination, receive Communion on this day. It is celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday in some parts of the United States, although the day falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday in other places.
Some people, particularly children, may celebrate their first Communion on this day. This practice, also known as Eucharist, is observed throughout the life of a Christian and is a time of worship when people believe they come together as one body to remember and celebrate the life and works of Jesus Christ. It involves the acceptance of bread and wine in memory of the body and blood of Christ.
The city of Corpus Christi, in Texas, was named after the day. In 1519, on the day of Corpus Christi, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay on what is now the southern coast of Texas. The bay, and the city that later grew in that area, took the name of the feast day.
Symbols that portray the event may include: an image of a host (consecrated bread) and chalice to depict the Holy Eucharist; an altar; and a ciborium, which is a chalice-like container used to store consecrated hosts of the sacrament of Eucharist, or the Holy Communion.