VATICAN INSIDER VISITS ST. LAWRENCE OUTSIDE THE WALLS BASILICA – “JESUS THE DIVINE WORKER FUND” PRESENTED IN ROME – THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

Here is a link to the weekly edition in English of L’Osservatore Romano: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/06/ING_2020_024_1206.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS ST. LAWRENCE OUTSIDE THE WALLS BASILICA

As you know, what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider has been changed over recent months because of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions imposed on and by people for in person interviews – at least up to now. I’ve thus filled this segment with Specials I’ve prepared for you, including visits to what are known as the Seven Pilgrim Basilica of Rome.

So far, I’ve explored five of those seven basilicas – the four papal basilicas of St. Peter’s, St, John Lateran,. St. Mary Major and St. Paul’s Outside the walls and last week we went to Holy Cross in Jerusalem. This weekend I take you to San Lorenzo – San Lawrence Outside the Walls. This is truly a not-to-miss church when you are in Rome so when you return to the Eternal City, you’ll have this podcast as your guide to St. Lawrence.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

“JESUS THE DIVINE WORKER FUND” PRESENTED IN ROME

On Tuesday, June 9, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has set up a fund to help families in Rome who have lost their livelihoods and are in economic difficulty due to the Covid-19 crisis. In a letter addressed to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, Francis wrote: “As bishop of Rome I have decided to establish the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker Fund’ to reaffirm the dignity of work, with an initial allocation of one million euros.”

He explained the Fund aims to support those “who risk being excluded from institutional protection and who need support until they can walk again unaccompanied…. My thoughts go “to the great number of daily and occasional workers, to those with fixed-term contracts that have not been renewed, to those who are paid by the hour, to interns, domestic workers, small entrepreneurs, self-employed workers, especially those in sectors most affected [by the pandemic] and their related industries.”

That fund was officially presented this morning, Friday, June 12, at 11am in the Sala degli Imperatori of the Lateran Apostolic Palace in the presence of Cardinal de Donatis, the president of the Lazio Region Nicola Zingaretti and Rome mayor Virginia Raggi. Raggi has pledged an additional €500,000.

THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in many countries as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, is a holiday in the Vatican and only one public event is usually on the papal schedule on this day – an evening Mass and procession to celebrate this feast which commemorates the Real Presence of Christ – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – in the Eucharist.

This annual celebration here in Rome traditionally starts with Mass at 7 p.m. in the square outside the Pope’s cathedral church of St. John Lateran, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament down Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica and a blessing of the crowd gathered at this Marian basilica. This tradition has always taken place on a Thursday. (photos: Vatican, CNS, AP, Getty)

From 2013 to through 2017 Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. John Lateran, joined the Eucharistic procession to St. Mary Major and blessed the faithful there. In 2018, he celebrated this feast in a parish in Ostia, a seaside town, and in 2019 he marked Corpus Christi in Casal Bertone.

In 2017, in what was seen as an unprecedented change, Francis announced that the traditional Roman Corpus Christi procession that has taken place for decades on a Thursday would henceforth be celebrated on Sunday.

It is on a Thursday, Holy Thursday, that the Church celebrates the institution of the Eucharist

This year, however, 2020, because of the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Sunday, June 14, at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:45 am in the presence of about 50 faithful.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. There is a Via Gregoriana in Rome today but it is located near the famed Spanish Steps. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and built the Quirinale Palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Corpus Domini Mass

The procession between the two Roman basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Pope Gregory XIII built the street that links the two churches and was originally named Via Gregorian, now called Via Merulana. This route was followed for more than 300 years until the procession fell into disuse until 1979 when St. John Paul revived the custom, He processed the distance on foot every year except 1981, after the attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square, and 1994 following hip surgery. Starting in 1995 he rode in an open, canopy-covered vehicle, seated before a small altar bearing the monstrance and host.

The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist. In one vision, Our Lord appeared to her, reminding her there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament and she began to promote such a feast. Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 in which he spoke of the love of Our Lord and Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Indulgences could be gained, he wrote, by attendance at Mass and reciting the Office composed at Urban’s request by St. Thomas Aquinas, which many say is the most beautiful office of the breviary.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, about this same time in history – which was a period of infrequent communion – the elevation of the chalice and host came into being at Mass as well as placing the host in a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration. Corpus Christi is a moveable feast and in some countries is observed on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I am often asked: What is the difference between a solemnity and a feast day in the Church? Liturgy is, of course, the Church’s public worship and includes all rites and ceremonies by means of which the Church expresses her worship of God. The principal acts of liturgy that would immediately come to mind to all of us would be the seven sacraments, called sacramental liturgies.

There are also categories of liturgical days. The three technical categories are, in descending order: Solemnity, Feast and Memorial.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a feast is “technically, one category of liturgical day, a lesser rank than ‘solemnity’ and a higher rank than ‘memorial’. In popular usage, however, ‘feast’ is applied indiscriminately by the faithful to all liturgical days on which the Church commemorates a mystery of Our Lord or Our Lady, or keeps the memory of a saint.” Thus, these days mark an event in the life of Jesus or Mary or a saint. The Vatican is very careful to make the distinction between solemnity, feast or memorial: Corpus Christi is a solemnity.

Often the observance starts on the vigil, that is, the evening prior to the actual date. Many solemnities occur on fixed dates such as January 1 – Mother of God; January 6 – Epiphany; March 25 – the Annunciation; June 29 – Sts. Peter and Paul; August 15 – the Assumption; and December 8 – the Immaculate Conception. Others are movable dates: Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.

A memorial refers to the so-called lowest type of feast found in the Church’s liturgical calendar. There is the obligatory memorial that must be celebrated and the optional memorial that is celebrated at Mass at the priest’s discretion. May 10th was, for example, an optional memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai, the priest who treated lepers.

 

VATICAN BANK (IOR) RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT – VATIVISION PLATFORM INAUGURATED TODAY

Today is a kind of smorgasbord of news – something for everyone: Corpus Christi, a papal charity fund raiser, Vatican City and coronavirus, Vatican bank annual report and a just-inaugurated Vativision platform that streams content on demand – films, documentaries and TV series – inspired by the Christian message.

Sunday, June 14, feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair at 9:45 am. About 50 faithful will be present for the papal Mass.

Do you want to help Pope Francis’ fund-raising efforts to help Italian hospitals? If so, click here to check out the site and to participate in the charity auction (there are some amazing offers): charitystars.com

 In a statement released on Saturday, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced that the last person in the Vatican to have been reported sick in the past few weeks has tested negative for Covid-19. “To date there are no positive cases of coronavirus among employees of the Holy See and within Vatican City State,” reads the statement.

VATICAN BANK (IOR) RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT

Vatican City, 8 June 2020 – For the eighth consecutive year, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) publishes the Financial Statements in its Annual Report.

The 2019 Financial Statements have been audited by the independent international auditing firm Mazars.

On 28 April 2020, the Board of Superintendence of the Institute unanimously approved the 2019 Financial Statements. In accordance with the Statutes, they were submitted to the Commission of Cardinals highlighting the soundness and the strength of IOR financials (capital and liquidity level) and its compliance with international best practices. In line with the indications of His Holiness Pope Francis, the Commission of Cardinals decided again this year for a full distribution of profits. (photo: Vatican media)

In 2019 the Institute continued to provide, with rigor and prudence, financial services to the Vatican City State and the Catholic Church worldwide. The Institute also continued its work to ensure adherence to Catholic Social Teaching throughout its operations. The priority and commitment of the Institute to the ethical and social principles of Catholic Teaching is applied to the management and investment policies of its own account and to those of its clients.

Key financial data for the Institute in 2019 are the following:

– Euro 5.1 billion (Euro 5 billion in 2018) of client assets of which 3.4 billion are assets· managed for third parties or under custody;

– Euro 38 million (Euro 17.5 million in 2018), as a net result illustrating the risk-based· and faith consistent investment process applied to manage IOR balance sheet;

– Euro 630.3 million of net equity after distribution of profit as at 31 December 2019. In· addition, IOR maintains a strong liquidity level with a Liquidity Coverage Ratio LCR of 443% and a Net Stable Funding Ratio NSFR of 1008%.

During the year, the IOR has continued to strengthen its senior management team and increased its investments in IT including those related to the membership of the European SEPA payment platforms.

(IOR website: http://www.ior.va/content/ior/en.html)

VATIVISION PLATFORM INAUGURATED TODAY

As of today, the VatiVision platform is online to stream content on demand – films, documentaries and TV series – inspired by the Christian message. The new initiative is the result of the collaboration between the Vatican’s Communication Secretariat and Vetrya.** The service is available worldwide in multi-screen mode, through a browser, by connecting to http://www.vativision.com or as an app on smartphones, tablets, smart-TVs and set-top boxes, where it is already present in all digital stores.

Dubbed “the Netflix of the Vatican,” VatiVision offers a catalogue full of content, religious documentaries, such as Lourdes and the Great Popes, films and documentaries dedicated to great biographies, such as Padre Pio, or art documentaries. VatiVision is available on TIMVISION***, TIM’s TV, and will soon be available on other international telecommunications operators.

(** Vetrya is an Italian cloud computing platform for the telecommunication industry – *** TIM is the Italian Telephone Company. www.vativision.com at the moment is only in Italian)

 

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST – THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

If your name is John, Joan or another derivative of John, today is your onomastico or name day! Congratulations and best wishes to everyone marking the June 24 feast of St. John the Baptist!

June 24, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, is in fact a big day in Italy and in several Italian cities whose patron saint he is, including Turin and Florence. This is a very old celebration – also known as Saint John’s Day in ma y countries in the world – as it was established by the undivided Christian Church in the 4th century A.D., to honor the birth of John the Baptist.

As we know from accounts of the Visitation, John was six months older than his cousin Jesus whom he baptized as an adult in the River Jordan. Jesus was born, according to tradition on December 25, so John’s birthday was presumed to be mid-summer.

Florentines celebrate the city’s patron saint, considering John the “symbol of moral rectitude and political correctness. The daylong events including parades, boat rides on the Arno River and tables laden with local food and wine. An evening soccer match and rowboats carrying lit candles followed by fireworks traditionally end the day.

In Rome, among other events, there is a huge concert on June 24 at the archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran – the church you and I know as St. John Lateran. St. John, by the way, is also the cathedral church of the bishop of Rome, the Pope.

Rome’s patron saints are Peter and Paul and their feast day, June 29 is a holiday in the city and in the Vatican.

For many, the only place to be in Rome on the 24th is the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, where the decapitated head of St. John on public display. The words in capite in fact, refer to his head. People actually come here from around the world and all year around to pray, place flowers, light candles and venerate the relic of the precursor of Christ.

It seems that St. John’s head was brought to Rome by Greek monks in 1169 who then build a church dedicated to him and also to Pope St. Sylvester – thus the name of the church.

THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in many countries as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, is always a holiday in the Vatican. For years, the public celebration occurred on the Thursday before the Sunday feast of Corpus Christi and the main event on the papal schedule that day was Mass at 7 p.m. in the square outside the Pope’s cathedral church of St. John Lateran, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament down Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica and a blessing of the crowd gathered there.

In March 2017, Pope Francis moved the traditional celebration in Rome of the feast of Corpus Christi from Thursday to the following Sunday. One of the reasons seemed to be the Pope’s desire to attract more people to this annual Mass and procession, including people who would have Sunday as a day off of work.

After the Corpus Christi Mass on June 18, 2017, the Holy Father travelled by car to St. Mary Major where he welcomed the huge procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament. For the first time, the monstrance was carried on a platform instead of placed in an open truck. It was held aloft on the shoulders of four men, alternating with others at points. A canopy was held over the Eucharist by 8 other men.

In 2018, the Holy Father celebrated Corpus Christi in the seaside town of Ostia, not far from Rome, celebrating Mass in front of the parish of Santa Monica. St. Pope Paul VI had celebrated Corpus Christi in Ostia in 1968. Before 1978, Mass was celebrated in different areas of Rome but since 1978, it had been held at St. John Lateran basilica, the cathedral church of the Pope who is the bishop of Rome. (photo Daniel Ibanez EWTN/CNA)

This year, 2019, Francis celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in Rome’s Casal Bertone neighborhood the evening of June 23 with Mass at 6 pm outside the parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice, followed by a Eucharistic procession.

Let’s look back at the history of this important feast day.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. There is a Via Gregoriana in Rome today but it is located near the famed Spanish Steps. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and built the Quirinale Palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

The procession between the two Roman basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Pope Gregory XIII built Via Gregoriana – now Via Merulana. This route was followed for more than 300 years when the procession fell into disuse until 1979 when St. John Paul II revived the custom.

He processed the distance on foot every year except 1981, after the attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square, and 1994 following hip surgery. Starting in 1995 he rode in an open, canopy-covered vehicle, seated before a small altar bearing the monstrance and host. Pope Benedict XVI continued this tradition. (shuttercock file)

The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist. In one vision, Our Lord appeared to her, reminding her there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament and she began to promote such a feast.

Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 in which he spoke of the love of Our Lord and Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Indulgences could be gained, he wrote, by attendance at Mass and reciting the Office composed at Urban’s request by St. Thomas Aquinas, which many say is the most beautiful office of the Breviary.

Thomas was at the time the papal theologian (they have always been Dominicans) and one of the main defenders of the corporeality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist against those scholastics who denied this.

You can thank St. Thomas when you sing the beautiful Adoro te Devote, or Pange Lingua. You may have indeed sung this if you have ever participated in a Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession in your parish or your home diocese of possibly even in Rome. By the way, the last two stanzas of Pange lingua are usually referred to and/or sung separately as Tantum ergo at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, about this same time in history – which was a period of infrequent communion – the elevation of the chalice and host came into being at Mass as well as placing the host in a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration.

Corpus Christi is a moveable feast and in some countries is observed on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I am often asked: What is the difference between a solemnity and a feast day in the Church? Liturgy is, of course, the Church’s public worship and includes all rites and ceremonies by means of which the Church expresses her worship of God. The principal acts of liturgy that would immediately come to mind to all of us would be the seven sacraments, called sacramental liturgies.

There are also categories of liturgical days. The three technical categories are, in descending order: Solemnity, Feast and Memorial.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a feast is “technically, one category of liturgical day, a lesser rank than ‘solemnity’ and a higher rank than ‘memorial’. In popular usage, however, ‘feast’ is applied indiscriminately by the faithful to all liturgical days on which the Church commemorates a mystery of Our Lord or Our Lady, or keeps the memory of a saint.” Thus, these days mark an event in the life of Jesus or Mary or a saint.

The Vatican is very careful to make the distinction between solemnity, feast or memorial: Corpus Christi is a solemnity.

Often the observance starts on the vigil, that is, the evening prior to the actual date. Many solemnities occur on fixed dates such as January 1 – Mother of God, January 6 – Epiphany, March 25 – the Annunciation, June 29 – Sts. Peter and Paul, August 15 – the Assumption, December 8 – the Immaculate Conception. Others are movable dates: Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.

A memorial refers to the so-called lowest type of feast found in the Church’s liturgical calendar. There is the obligatory memorial that must be celebrated and the optional memorial that is celebrated at Mass at the priest’s discretion. May 10th is, for example, an optional memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai, the priest who treated lepers.

 

UPDATE ON JUNE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS FOR POPE FRANCIS

UPDATE ON JUNE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS FOR POPE FRANCIS

The Vatican today released the papal schedule of liturgical celebrations for June, July and August. There are a few notable changes in June.

This coming Sunday, June 3, solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi – Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the seaside town of Ostia, not at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome as has been customary. Mass will be at the church of St. Monica and the Corpus Christi procession from that church to Our Lady of Bonaria for the Eucharistic Benediction.

A note from the vicariate of Rome relative to this year’s celebration of Corpus Christi says: “’For more than 40 years Corpus Christi has been celebrated at St. John Lateran,’ writes the bishop responsible for the southern quarter of the diocese of Rome. ‘One tradition is interrupted but another resumes. In fact, until 1978, with Paul VI this feast took part in various parts of the city and it was precisely in 1968 that Pope Montini celebrated it in Ostia’.”

JUNE 28 – CONSISTORY TO CREATE NEW CARDINALS: Although Pope Francis announced June 29 as the day he would hold a consistory to create new cardinals, that consistory will now be held on Thursday, June 28 at 4 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the past, a consistory to create new cardinals has taken place in the morning and the traditional courtesy visits to the new cardinals take place that afternoon. We’ll have to see what the Vatican has in mind for these visits.

JUNE 29 – PALLIUMS BLESSED FOR NEW METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS:  What will take place on June 29, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, is the traditional papal Mass and blessing of the palliums that the new metropolitan archbishops named in the last year will receive. The palliums will be formally placed on the shoulders of the metropolitans in their home dioceses at a date to be determined.

THE EUCHARIST IS THE MEMORIAL OF GOD’S LOVE – THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

In case you did not see my earlier tweet or FB note, it was annnounced today by the press office director, Greg Burke, that Pope Francis will visit Chile and Peru in January 2018 – specific schedule and details to be announced.

THE EUCHARIST IS THE MEMORIAL OF GOD’S LOVE

On Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. John Lateran basilica, his cathedral as Bishop of Rome, followed by a procession to St. Mary Major Basilica. This annual procession has traditionally taken place on the Thursday before the feast of Corpus Christi but Pope Francis asked that it be moved this year to the actual feast day itself.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the word “memory,” noting that “remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation.”

“Memory is important,” said Francis, “because it allows us to dwell in love, to be mindful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return.  Yet nowadays, this singular ability that the Lord has given us is considerably weakened.  Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl.  We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories.  Leaving our memories behind and living only for the moment, we risk remaining ever on the surface of things, constantly in flux, without going deeper, without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.  In this way, our life grows fragmented, and dulled within.”

And yet, he said, “today’s Solemnity reminds us that in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving ‘fragility’ which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.

“There, ‘Christ’s sufferings are remembered’, and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  The Eucharist is flavored with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  In saying this, I think in particular of you boys and girls, who recently received First Holy Communion, and are here today in great numbers.”

After Mass, the Holy Father travelled by car to St. Mary Major where he welcomed the huge procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament. For the first time, the Monstrance was carried on a platform, instead of placed in an open truck, held aloft on the shoulders of four men, alternating with others at points. A canopy was held over the Eucharist by 8 other men.

In 1994, when Pope John Paul began to have difficulty walking, a truck became the means of transportation for the pontiff and the Eucharist. Both a chair and a kneeler were planed in the open vehicle for the Pope. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI followed suit in the truck.

Pope Francis did walk behind the Eucharist in 2013 but since then has been driven to the basilica of St. Mary Major.

THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI – THEN AND NOW

The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in many countries as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, is always a holiday in the Vatican. For years, the public celebration occurred on the Thursday before the Sunday feast of Corpus Christi and the main event on the papal schedule that day was Mass at 7 p.m. in the square outside the Pope’s cathedral church of St. John Lateran, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament down Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica and a blessing of the crowd gathered there.

In March 2017, Pope Francis moved the traditional celebration in Rome of the feast of Corpus Christi from Thursday to the following Sunday.  One of the reasons seemed to be the Pope’s desire to attract more people to this annual Mass and procession, including people who would have Sunday as a day off of work.

After the Corpus Christi Mass on June 18, 2017,  the Holy Father travelled by car to St. Mary Major where he welcomed the huge procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament. For the first time, the Monstrance was carried on a platform, instead of placed in an open truck. It was held aloft on the shoulders of four men, alternating with others at points. A canopy was held over the Eucharist by 8 other men.

Let’s look back at the history of this important feast day.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. There is a Via Gregoriana in Rome today but it is located near the famed Spanish Steps. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and built the Quirinale Palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

The procession between the two Roman basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Pope Gregory XIII built the street that links them, originally named Via Gregorian and now called Via Merulana. This route was followed for more than 300 years until the procession fell into disuse until 1979 when St. John Paul revived the custom, He processed the distance on foot every year except 1981, after the attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square, and 1994 following hip surgery. Starting in 1995 he rode in an open, canopy-covered vehicle, seated before a small altar bearing the monstrance and host.

Pope Benedict XVI continued this tradition.

The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist. In one vision, Our Lord appeared to her, reminding her there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament and she began to promote such a feast. Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 in which he spoke of the love of Our Lord and Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Indulgences could be gained, he wrote, by attendance at Mass and reciting the Office composed at Urban’s request by St. Thomas Aquinas, which many say is the most beautiful office of the Breviary.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, about this same time in history – which was a period of infrequent communion – the elevation of the chalice and host came into being at Mass as well as placing the host in a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration. Corpus Christi is a moveable feast and in some countries is observed on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I am often asked: What is the difference between a solemnity and a feast day in the Church? Liturgy is, of course, the Church’s public worship and includes all rites and ceremonies by means of which the Church expresses her worship of God. The principal acts of liturgy that would immediately come to mind to all of us would be the seven sacraments, called sacramental liturgies.

There are also categories of liturgical days. The three technical categories are, in descending order: Solemnity, Feast and Memorial.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a feast is “technically, one category of liturgical day, a lesser rank than ‘solemnity’ and a higher rank than ‘memorial’. In popular usage, however, ‘feast’ is applied indiscriminately by the faithful to all liturgical days on which the Church commemorates a mystery of Our Lord or Our Lady, or keeps the memory of a saint.” Thus, these days mark an event in the life of Jesus or Mary or a saint. The Vatican is very careful to make the distinction between solemnity, feast or memorial: Corpus Christi is a solemnity.

Often the observance starts on the vigil, that is, the evening prior to the actual date. Many solemnities occur on fixed dates such as January 1 – Mother of God, January 6 – Epiphany, March 25 – the Annunciation, June 29 – Sts. Peter and Paul, August 15 – the Assumption, December 8 – the Immaculate Conception. Others are movable dates: Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi – which Pope Benedict marks today, May 22, in Rome.

A memorial refers to the so-called lowest type of feast found in the Church’s liturgical calendar. There is the obligatory memorial that must be celebrated and the optional memorial that is celebrated at Mass at the priest’s discretion. May 10th was, for example, an optional memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai, the priest who treated lepers.

VATICAN INSIDER: THE ACTON INSTITUTE AND MICHAEL NOVAK – POPE FRANCIS MAKES HISTORIC CHANGE IN CORPUS CHRISTI FEAST

VATICAN INSIDER: THE ACTON INSTITUTE AND MICHAEL NOVAK

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute’s Rome Office. We talk briefly about the mission and work of the Institute but this week’s focus is principally on one of our favorite people and friends, the late, great Michael Novak, and his impact on the world, on Acton and on our personal lives. Part I aired last weekend.

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POPE FRANCIS MAKES HISTORIC CHANGE IN CORPUS CHRISTI FEAST

It is subtle and has come without an official explanation – so far.

Pope Francis has moved the traditional celebration in Rome of the feast of Corpus Christi, known as Corpus Domini here, from Thursday to the following Sunday this year. The traditional Mass and procession from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major along Via Merulana will now take place on Sunday, June 18.

An article in the online Italian language journal, FarodiRoma (Rome’s Lighthouse), cited by Aleteia, calls the news “an unprecedented move” by Pope Francis.

The editors explain in their article on Corpus Christi that one of the reasons seems to be Pope Francesco’s desire to attract more people to this annual Mass and procession.

I follow the papal calendar month by month by going to the Prefecture of the Papal Household (where people get tickets for papal events: http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/en/biglietti_en.html) and, for liturgical ceremonies, to Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff (http://w2.vatican.va/content/liturgy/en.html

I wanted to verify the new date for this feast but could not find a calendar beyond April. I was advised to go to the prefecture site, to the upper right corner where, in very small letters, a hard to see white on gray, appears the word ‘Audiences’. It’s actually a misnomer because when you click on it you see audiences, the Angelus, liturgies, etc. – it probably should be named Agenda 2017.

There it is: JUNE 2017 – Sunday 18, Corpus Domini Mass and Procession at 19:00 in St John Lateran Square (no tickets required)

It does not mention Via Merulana or St. Mary Major but I suppose that’s a given – at least to Romans who know this tradition well.

Let’s see if and when the change is explained. Will Pope Francis issue a bull to change that of Pope Urban IV? Urban wished to honor the Eucharist and, in August 1264, wrote the Bull Transitus, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Urban died on October 2, 1264.

Urban IV with Saints Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas –

Following is a piece I wrote a few years back and publish every year on the feast of Corpus Christi:

One of the most evocative liturgical celebrations of the year in Rome is the feast of Corpus Christi. Dating back to 1246, this solemnity is marked by an evening papal Mass on the esplanade at St. John Lateran Basilica and a Eucharistic procession along Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica where the Pope imparts his blessing. This feast is celebrated in many beautiful, similar ways in dioceses throughout the world.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian university, and built the quirinale palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

The procession between the two basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Gregory XIII built Via Merulana, and this route was followed for more than 300 years until the procession fell into disuse. John Paul II revived this custom in 1979. The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist.

In one vision, Our Lord appeared to Julianna, reminding her that there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament, and she began to promote such a feast.

Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday

(JFL: The “lighthouse” in the journal’s name (which also publishes pieces in Spanish) refers to the lighthouse on the Janiculum hill that rose where the battles took place for the defense of the Roman Republic of 1849, and dominates Italy’s capital with its 20-meter height. The monument’s construction was financed by the Italian community in Argentina to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italy’s unification in 1911, just over a century before the arrival of an Argentinian to the papacy, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis.)