Every year between 24th May and 28th June towns, villages and even cities throughout Ireland spruce themselves up for the annual Eucharistic Procession.
This is one of the highlights of the liturgical year for Catholics. The procession usually takes place on the Sunday immediately following the Feast of Corpus Christi, which falls on the Thursday following Pentecost. Corpus Christi falls on a Thursday to link it to the celebration of Holy Thursday at Easter. Thus you can see that Corpus Christi is determined by the date of Easter each year.
Where did this feast of Corpus Christi come from? During the 11th and 12th centuries theologians in the Latin (western) Church had ferocious arguments over the nature of the Eucharist. By 1200 they had settled on the idea of transubstantiation. That is the bread and wine consecrated at the altar during Mass by a properly ordained priest, or a bishop, become the actual body and blood of Christ, even as their appearance does not change.
Read more of Tony Harpur’s Historical Tales inside the latest issue of Midleton and District News.