Every year, Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”), symbolizing their belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Traditionally, the feast of Corpus Christi takes place on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Thursday is the day Jesus instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, the first Mass, at the Last Supper before his expiatory sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday. In the United States, the celebration of Corpus Christi was moved to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.
This annual celebration takes place two weeks after Pentecost towards the beginning of summer when returning to Ordinary Time after the Great 50 Days of Easter. This is a time when Catholics can demonstrate their love for Christ in the Real Presence by honoring him in a very public way. It is also a wonderful approach in which Catholics can also show a love for their neighbors by bringing Our Lord and Savior closer to the community.
In honor of the occasion, Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church of Front Royal held its 23rd annual Eucharistic procession on Sunday, June 19 at 6 p.m. Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was carried out of the church after the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The congregation lined up on Main Street and joined the procession after the passage of Our Lord (Eucharist in a golden vessel called a monstrance). The monstrance itself is protected by a decorated canopy.
The procession was led by the flag of the United States and the papal flag, followed by four additional priests and a deacon, first communicants, knights of Columbus in their 4th degree regalia, altar servers in their cassocks , members of all parish ministries and lay people. and their families. Church leaders estimated that 800 men, women and children had gathered at the town’s gazebo to publicly testify to their belief in the sacrament of the Eucharist and their devotion.
The congregation sang hymns and said prayers as they walked down Main Street to the town lookout. The Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar in the gazebo for a brief recitation of the Eucharistic prayers of Fatima and the blessing. Tantum Ergo was sung from the Eucharistic Hymn (Pange Lingua) composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the mid-1200s, almost 800 years ago. During the procession back to the church, the congregation prayed and sang various hymns (such as Anima Christi) which express the belief in the true presence of Jesus – body, blood, soul and divinity – in the Most Holy Eucharist.
In procession with the Lord and with continuous songs of praise, the faithful returned to the church for the final blessing where the Blessed Sacrament was then laid in the Tabernacle. The procession lasted about 45 minutes. Volunteers have been positioned on each block to offer assistance, if needed. Front Royal Police officers were on hand to handle traffic control around Main Street and provide surveillance.
An Ice Cream Social was held after the procession in the basement of the church as well as in the adjacent park. St John the Baptist Church thanks Garber Ice Cream Company of Winchester for offering a discount on their delicious ice cream.
The tradition of bringing the Eucharistic Procession out through the streets of the Front Royal began in 2000. That year was declared a Jubilee Year by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II. Key members of the Knights of Columbus were motivated to express the Church’s belief in the real presence of the Front Royal community and to take Jesus to the streets to bless the city and all the souls who live in and around it.
“For the past 23 years, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, led and organized by members of the Knights of Columbus, has faithfully held an annual procession with crowds ranging from 400 to 500 to more than 1,000, according to various factors such as time of day, weather or COVID restrictions,” said Vince Criste, Past Grand Knight of Knights Council #7771.
“Given that St. John’s is on West Main Street and the city lookout is at the end of East Main Street, it made sense to take the Blessed Sacrament straight into the city center with a police escort. up to the city lookout, a natural gathering place, making it a fitting altar for such a divine host,” Criste said.
According to Criste, the city has always been cooperative and the support from the police over these many years has been fantastic.
One of the great privileges of freedom in this country is our ability to practice our faith publicly. Saint John the Baptist is delighted to honor Our Lord in this way and to spread his love and his blessing in the streets.
“The Eucharist is one of the great mysteries of our Faith. We accept that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ because Jesus himself instituted this great sacrament. As God, He is Truth itself. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. So we don’t need ‘science’… just faith and trust in Jesus said, Cristus. “In his mercy and to sustain our faith, Our Lord has confirmed this mystery by allowing amazing Eucharistic miracles in various parts of the world.” (To learn more about Eucharistic miracles, go to https://www.ncregister.com/blog/five-eucharistic-miracles).
Saint John the Baptist is located at 120 West Main Street, Front Royal, VA. The church (currently a congregation of 6,000) was consecrated on September 7, 1884, by Rt. Rev. John J. Keane, Bishop of Richmond, assisted by Rev. O’Connell; Reverend D. Roley of Baltimore was the celebrant of the high mass, with the assistance of Reverend O’Reilly.
About the party:
The Corpus Christi feast was born in 1246 when Robert de Torote, bishop of Liège, ordered the celebration of the feast in his diocese. He was persuaded to initiate the feast by Saint Julienne, prioress of Mont Cornillon near Liège (1222-1258), who had had a vision. It did not spread until 1261, when Jacques Pantaléon, former archdeacon of Liège, became pope under the name of Urban IV. In 1264 he ordered the whole Church to observe the feast. Urban’s order was confirmed by Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienna in 1311–12. In the middle of the 14th century, the feast gained momentum, and in the 15th century it became one of the main feasts of the Church.