The Feast of Corpus Christi, also known as Corpus Domini, is a latin rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.
In the present Roman Missal, the feast is designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran, and Old Catholic Churches that hold similar beliefs regarding the Real Presence.
The feast is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”. At the end of Holy Mass, there is often aprocession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateranand makes its way to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The feast of Corpus Christi is one of five occasions in the year on which a diocesan bishop is not to be away from his diocese unless for a grave and urgent reason. By tradition, Catholics take part in a procession through the streets of a neighborhood near their parish following mass and pray and sing. The Eucharist, known as the Blessed Sacrament, is placed in a monstrance and is held aloft by a member of the clergy during the procession. After the procession, parishioners return to the church where benediction usually takes place.
Corpus Christi is included in the calendar of a few Anglican churches, most notably the Church of England. The feast is also celebrated by some Anglo-Catholic parishes even in provinces of the Anglican Communion that do not officially include it in their calendars. McCausland’s Order of Divine Service, the most commonly used ordo in the Anglican Church of Canada, provides lections for the day. In the Church of England it is known as The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi) and has the status of a Festival. Although its observance is optional, where kept, it is typically celebrated as a major holy day.
Corpus Christi is also celebrated by the Old Catholic Church, the Liberal Catholic Church and by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians, and is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of the more Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches. The feast was retained in the calendars of the Lutheran Church up until about 1600, but continues to be celebrated by some Lutheran congregations.
In medieval times in many parts of Europe Corpus Christi was a time for the performance of mystery plays. In Catalonia it is celebrated with the tradition of the Dancing egg, with evidence from the 16th century. In the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos, the celebration includes the practice of El Colacho (baby jumping).