The Feast of Corpus Christi

About to pass from this world to the Father, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ, since the time of his
Passion was at hand, instituted the great and wonderful Sacrament of his Body and Blood, bestowing his
Body as food and his Blood as drink.

Christ truly remains present among us!

Whenever we eat of this Bread and drink of this Chalice, we truly proclaim the Death of the Lord, for in
instituting this Sacrament, Jesus said to the Apostles, “Do this in memory of Me” (1 Cor 11:24). Thus, He
expressed His desire that this sublime and venerable Sacrament be for us a remembrance of His great
love for us. It is an admirable and stupendous remembrance, sweet and suave, dear and precious, in
which immutable prodigies and marvels are renewed. The Sacrament of the Eucharist contains every
delight and the most delicate savors. In it, we taste the very sweetness of the Lord, and above all, we
obtain strength for our life and for our salvation.
In this most sweet, revered and salutary memorial, we renew our gratitude for our Redemption. We
turn away from evil, and we consolidate the practice of good. We progress in the acquisition of the
virtues and of grace, and we are comforted by the bodily presence of our Savior. For within this
sacramental memorial, Christ is present among us, under a different form, but in His true substance.
Jesus said to the Apostles and His successors, before ascending into Heaven, “And behold, I am with you
always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). In this promise, Jesus consoled them with the benevolent
assurance that they could rely even on His corporeal presence.

Nothing can replace this noble and caring concern for the disciple’s souls!

Thus, Our Savior gave Himself to us as food so that, just as man was corrupted by the forbidden food, he
would be renewed by a holy food. Those who had fallen by the fruit of a tree of death, resurrect by the
bread of life. From that tree hung a deadly food, in this bread one finds life-giving food. That fruit
brought ill upon us, and the other tree brought forth a cure. The disordered appetite produced evil, and
a salutary hunger, delivered a benefit. From the place pervaded with infirmity, come forth the remedy.
Although death was introduced, now there came forth life.
In eating of the forbidden fruit, it was said: “For in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:17).
Yet, regarding the bread from Heaven, it was declared: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (Jn
6:51).
The Eucharist is food that truly restores and nourishes. It satisfies entirely, not the body, but the heart;
not the flesh, but the spirit; not the stomach, but the soul. Man needed a spiritual food, and our
merciful Savior gave him the choicest and noblest delicacy as food for his soul. This delicacy is eaten, but
it is neither consumed nor changed. Rather, the Bread of Heaven is not transformed into those who eat
it, but, on the contrary, makes those who receive it worthily of Its reception.
O sublime and adorable Sacrament, You are worthy of the most celebratory and moving hymns of praise
and deserving of exultation and ardent homage of every fiber of our souls! You are worthy to be
received by the purest souls! Glorious memorial, You should be sheltered in the deepest recesses of the

heart, indelibly imprinted upon souls, enclosed in the innermost regions of the spirit, honored with the
most steadfast and ardent piety!
Let us always turn to this great Sacrament, to remember at every moment Him of whom it is the perfect
memorial. We more readily remember the person whose benefits we have constantly in mind.

The duty of honouring such an admirable Sacrament

Therefore, although this memorial Sacrament is frequented in the daily solemnities of the Mass, we
nevertheless think suitable and worthy that, at least once a year – especially to confound the lack of
faith and the infamy of heretics – a more solemn and honorable memory of this Sacrament be held.
This is so because on Holy Thursday, the day on which the Lord himself instituted this Sacrament, the
universal Church, occupied with the reconciliation of penitents, blessing the chrism, fulfilling the
Commandments about the washing of the feet and many other such things, is not sufficiently free to
celebrate so great a Sacrament.
The Church honors the saints, and though remembering them often throughout the year in the litanies,
Masses, and other liturgical acts, it does not neglect to celebrate with greater solemnity the feast of
their entrance into Heaven by establishing fixed days dedicated to them, with special memorials in their
honor. Furthermore, so as not to let even the most unknow saints go without at least some honors, the
Church reserved one day of the year for the commemoration of all the saints. Thus, in this common
celebration, what may have been overlooked individually, whether due to negligence, worldly concerns
or human fragility is remember with holy and solemn grandeur.
Thus, the sacred and grand celebration of the great Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ must be
celebrated with all pomp and solemnity. In celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi on a specific date, and
not only during mass throughout the year, the Church pays special attention and homage to the great
sacrament of the Eucharist.
On the solemn feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful may examine themselves attentively,
with humility and purity of conscience, may make reparation for the faults they had committed in the
attendance of Mass, perhaps by having their minds on worldly affairs or, more likely, due to negligence
or human weakness.

Solemnly celebrate this sublime and glorious feast

The Catholic Faith should be fortified and revered. For this end, it is appropriate and opportune that a
solemn feast was established by the Church to honor the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is
commemorated daily at Mass throughout the Church. Thus, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established
on the first Thursday, after the octave of Pentecost.
On Corpus Christi, may multitudes of devout faithful gather in the churches, filled with love. May all the
clergy and people intone jubilant hymns of praise, overflowing with joy from lips and hearts. Let faith be
sung, hope resound and charity overflow. Let devotion be manifest, purity rejoice and sincerity shine
forth from hearts. May all unite with eager spirits and willing hearts to prepare for and celebrate this
feast.

May fervor inflame the souls of the faithful in the service of Christ so that, by means of this feast and
other good works, they may accumulate always greater merits in His sight, so that after this life they
may attain, as a reward, Him who offered Himself to men as food, and as the price of their redemption.
We therefore recommend and exhort you in the Lord, and by means of this apostolic bull, ordain in
virtue of holy obedience, and for the remission of your sins, that you devoutly and solemnly celebrate
this most sublime and glorious feast, and that you vigilantly strive to have it celebrated in the churches
of your cities and dioceses on the aforementioned Thursday of each year, using the readings,
responsories, verses, antiphons, psalms, hymns and prayers instituted for this purpose, which we annex
to this bull along with the parts proper to the Mass.
We also ordain that, directly or by mediation of others, on the Sunday prior to the aforementioned
Thursday, you exhort your faithful, by means of a good Confession, generous alms, fervent prayers and
other works of piety and devotion, to prepare themselves, with God’s help, to reverently receive on this
day such a precious Sacrament and thereby obtain an increase of grace.


Pope Urban IV. Excerpts from the Bull “Transiturus de hoc mundo”, 11/8/1264 .

Original Latin available at www.vatican.va