17 June 2017

Who started CORPUS CHRISTI?

A big Thank You to Pope John XXII for this great feast!

'Really?' you cry, 'surely everybody knows it was ordered to be observed by Urban IV in 1264, through the bull Transiturus'. Well, yes, up to a point, Lord Copper. But the strange thing is that this bull had no ... or very little ... actual effect. It even appears (a strange crowd, the medievals) that the observance was not even kept in the papal court itself!!!. It was not until John XXII sent to the entire Western hierarchy, in 1317, a collection of decretals called the Clementines that it began to be universally observed. And Transiturus had not mentioned such things as Exposition and Processions of the Sacrament. Although there may be a very few refences to such activities between 1264 and 1317, it was after that date that a great wave of enthusiasm for the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament swept the Church.

Corpus Christi as you know it and love it results from John XXII seizing the moment when the devotional mood of the faithful was exactly ready for it.

Through most of the first 1200 years of the Church's history, there was no 'devotion to the Blessed Sacrament' as we know it. The Sacrament was indeed known to be truly the Body if the Lord and was reserved so that it could be administered to the sick. But there was no sense that it also afforded a focus for adoration and for a direct relationship with our Lord verily present. That was a precious gift of which the faithful became aware in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. And it was the example of what John XXII did when he had the Host carried in glorious rite through the streets of the papal city, Avignon, that was emulated throughout the Catholic world and which provided the pattern for what you are doing this Corpus-Christi-tide.

Three cheers for the Avignon papacy and for the greatest of the Avignon popes, John XXII!

6 comments:

Augustine Pinnock said...

As much as I appreciate your blog, Father, I'm not sure I can agree with your last paragraph. The following article concerns Eucharistic adoration before the 13th century: http://www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/apologetics/87-eucharistic-apologetics/588-eucharistic-adoration-to-1264.html

Osusanna said...

Thank you Father, I never knew this.

Ben of the Bayou said...

Dear Father,

Though it seems that, as you rightly poubt out, there was no 'devotion' as we now know and love it, I wonder whether we cannot say a bit more that gives a fuller picture. That is, though there was no "adoration" in the monstrance, &c., the Mediaeval Christians were very, very keen to observe and to adore during the elevation (vide "squint holes"). Are these also to be assigned to the 14th c., or is it not so that they were probably earlier? If so, the 'devotion' of the faithful to the Most Blessed Sacrament, even beyond reservation for the sick, goes back much farther than the 14th c. Indeed, there is a German (or Low Lands) church of which I am aware that boasts a 'Sacrament house' which was a locus of worship and which goes back to sometime around the 9th c.

Kind regards,

Ben

Deacon Augustine said...

Which proves that even broken clocks are right twice a day... ;)

Banshee said...

Yeah, but Corpus Christi devotions started with St. Juliana of Liege's visions, and there was already devotion in Belgium and France thanks to that.

So it's just as logical for a French pope to get enthusiastic about Corpus Christi, and for Avignon to be ready to process and celebrate, as it was for Pope St. John Paul II to be enthused about promoting Divine Mercy devotions from St. Faustina back in Poland.

Which is not to say that we shouldn't be grateful to Pope John XXII, because it was a good thing for him to do.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Banshee

Yeah, in the friendliest way, to you too! I am not aware of evidence for the assertions you make.