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June 11, 2012June 11, 2012  1 comments  Religious ceremonies

The Feast of Corpus Christi, or commonly called the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, is a very important holiday in the Catholic tradition, as it celebrates the institution of the Holy Communion at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and His disciples. "While they were eating, He took bread, said blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said: Take it; this is my body." (Mark 14:22) The mentioned verses of the Gospel of Mark are always read during the Holy Masses before the Eucharist is distributed to the gathered believers.

 

Origin of the Corpus Christi Feast


The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ commemorates the happenings from the 1st century A.D., its establishment goes back only the 13th century.


"What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD."(Psalm 116:12-13)


In 1246 A.D., Bishop Robert from Belgium, at the request of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, instituted the celebration of the feast. The celebration began to spread fast and on 8th of September 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church.


The Corpus Christi holiday is celebrated by the Church on the eighth Thursday after Easter. However this year (2012), the Catholic Christians of Bethlehem celebrated the feast on June 8th, one day alter. The solemn mass took place at the monumental Salesian Church of the Sacred Heart situated in the Old Town of Bethlehem.

 

Corpus Christi in Bethlehem Travelujah

Salesian Church in Bethlehem; photo courtesy Beata Andonia for Travelujah

 

After the mass, there was a festive procession long the path from the Salesian Church to  Manger Square, where another mass took place. The streets were decorated with colorful ribbons and sacred images of Jesus and Virgin Mary.

During the parade the priest held the Holy Eucharist and the gathered Christians chanted religious psalms and threw flower petals. After the mass on the Manger Square, the procession continued along Star Street within Bethlehem's Old City, believed to be the way Mary and Joseph came to the Nativity Grotto, where Mary gave birth to baby Jesus.

 

Corpus Christi in Bethlehem Travelujah
Photo courtesy Beata Andonia for Travelujah


For tourists, the opportunity to experience these festive gatherings, is a perfect way to share in the culture of the Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land.

 

Corpus Christi in Bethlehem Travelujah

Photo courtesy Beata Andonia for Travelujah


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Beata M. Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

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