“This is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist." – Pope St John Paul II
On Sunday 11 June the faithful of the Archdiocese gathered at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, for the annual Corpus Christi procession. Setting off at 3 pm and accompanied by Archbishop John Wilson, they sang hymns and prayed decades of the rosary, following the Cathedral Dean, Fr Michael Branch, as he bore Our Lord through the streets of South London. Near the head of the procession were two young girls of the Cathedral parish, scattering rose petals; both during the procession and at Benediction, singing was led by the Cathedral’s lay clerks.
The feast of Corpus Christi was suggested by the great Dominican theologian St Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, to Pope Urban IV, with the intention of creating a feast dedicated to the Eucharist. This feast would serve to underline the truth that in this wondrous sacrament Jesus Christ is substantially present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The feast of Corpus Christi was instituted in 1264, and then made a Solemnity and extended to the whole Catholic Church. Public processions of the Blessed Sacrament afford an opportunity for open witness to the great gift Jesus Christ makes of Himself to us in the Eucharist.
“We have the joy not only to celebrate this mystery, but also to praise it and sing it through the streets of our city. May the procession we [make] express our gratitude for the whole journey that God has made us travel through the desert of our poverty, to deliver us from servitude, nourishing us with His Love through the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood.” – Pope Francis