The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
According to Canon Law (Can. 944 §1,2) “Wherever in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop it can be done, a procession through the streets is to be held, especially on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, as a public witness of veneration of the Blessed Eucharist. It is for the diocesan Bishop to establish such regulations about processions as will provide participation in them and for their being carried out in a dignified manner.” Note that such processions can take place throughout the liturgical year but are “especially” encouraged on the feast of Corpus Christi. No other devotion has received such attention in the Code of Canon Law which shows the importance the Church attaches to this feast. It is one of the few feasts which is mentioned along with Holy Days of Obligation: “… the following holy days are to be observed: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the feast of St. Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints.” (Can. 1246 §1)
The full name of this feast is Corpus et Sanguis Christi or The Body and Blood of Christ. “The feast of the Blessed Sacrament was established in 1246 by Bishop Robert de Thorte of Liege at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont Carvillon. [It was] extended to the universal Church by Pope Urban in 1264. The office composed by St. Thomas Aquinas and customary procession was approved by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. Celebrated in June, the first Sunday after the feast of the Trinity.” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, by John A. Hardon, S.J.)
St. Juliana, a Belgian nun in Retinne, lived at the time of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis. She received this inspiration from Our Lord for the following reasons: 1) that the Catholic doctrine receive aid from the institution of this festival at a time when the faith of the world was growing cold and heresies were rife; 2) that the faithful who love and seek truth and piety may be enabled to draw from this source of life new strength and vigor to walk continually in the way of virtue; 3) that irreverence and sacrilegious behavior towards the Divine Majesty in this adorable Sacrament may, by sincere and profound adoration, be extirpated and repaired; 4) to announce to the Christian world His will that the feast be observed. (Full Brief of Pope Urban IV in The Blessed Eucharist, Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.R., 1867; republished by TAN Publishers, Rockford, IL 1994.)
After the last Mass on this feast day Our Lord is placed in the monstrance. The priest then carries Him to four different altars representing the four corners of the earth. While processing, the congregation follows and sings. At each altar there are readings, prayers, and benediction.