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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Oh, My Lord, My God

The town of Orvieto, Italy, where we recently traveled on our pilgrimage.  
The cathedral was begun in 1290 on the foundation of an Etruscan temple.  
Sunday, June 23 is the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.  This Feast was instituted on August 11, 1264 by Pope Urban IV in the bull, “Transiturus de Hoc Mundo,” which says,
 “We should celebrate continuously the memory of this memorial, because the more frequently his gift and favour are looked upon, so much the more firmly are they kept in memory. Therefore, although this memorial Sacrament is frequented in the daily solemnities of the Mass, we nevertheless think suitable and worthy that, at least once a year – especially to confound the lack of faith and the infamy of heretics – a more solemn and honourable memory of this Sacrament be held.
This is so because on Holy Thursday, the day on which the Lord himself instituted this Sacrament, the universal Church, occupied with the reconciliation of penitents, blessing the chrism, fulfilling the Commandments about the washing of the feet and many other such things, is not sufficiently free to celebrate so great a Sacrament.

At the end of the bull, the pope says,

Moreover we know that, while we were constituted in a lesser office, it was divinely revealed to certain Catholics that a feast of this kind should be celebrated generally throughout the Church. Therefore, to strengthen and exalt the Catholic Faith, we decree that, besides the daily memory that the Church makes of this Sacrament, there be celebrated a more solemn and special annual memorial. Then let the hearts and mouths of all break forth in hymns of saving joy; then let faith sing, hope dance, charity exult, devotion applaud, the choir be jubilant, and purity delight. Then let each one with willing spirit and prompt will come together, laudably fulfilling his duties, celebrating the Solemnity of so great a Feast.

I found the text of this bull on The American Catholic website which also reveals that the pope had the help of St. Thomas Aquinas in creating the draft of the document. 
Chapel where the corporal
is on display and in which we 
celebrated our daily mass

During our recent pilgrimage to Italy we had the great fortune to visit the town of Orvieto.  The chapel, and the corporal in it, is the second of the three most important things I saw or experienced on the pilgrimage.  In the chapel is displayed the corporal  on which dripped the blood of Christ during the consecration of the Eucharist during what is now referred to as the Miracle of Bolsena which occurred in 1263.  (Bolsena is today about 29 minutes away by car, so relatively close by.)  Pope Urban IV was at the time of this miracle staying in Orvieto.   
When the German priest, Peter of Prague, on a pilgrimage to Rome, stopped in Bolsena to say mass, he was stunned to see at the moment of Consecration, blood dripping from the host through his hands onto the corporal on the altar.  He immediately halted mass and asked to be taken to Orvieto to speak to the pope to let him know what had happened. 

The pope ordered the corporal be brought to Orvieto along with the host.  Our small group of pilgrims held mass in the side chapel of this renowned Gothic structure where the corporal has been on display since 1350.  If there is ever a moment when the expression, Oh, my God, is appropriate, it is when you gaze upon this cloth and ponder the miracle and the number of believers whose faith has been strengthened by the sight of it.  Thank you, Jesus.  On the walls of this chapel are paintings that depict the events of this miracle and the showing of the cloth to the public and to the leaders of the Church.  These are not recent "cartoon depictions".  They were done within a short period of time of the event by the most talented artists of the day and can be trusted to reveal the truth of the event.  

Not surprisingly, current literature has tried very hard to make light of this story, referring to it as a “legend” and a myth in some cases.  The Catholic Encyclopedia points out that the pope never referred to such a miracle in his bull which established the feast of Corpus Christi the following year.  However, it was NOT the blood on the cloth which called for the institution of a universal belief in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.  This was a long held belief and doctrine of the Church.  The miracle may very well have been, in any case, a reminder to Pope Urban IV that this belief needs very much to have its own celebration and special day on the calendar. 

And what a reminder it is to any and all who have seen this corporal.  The little chapel, adorned with these beautiful frescos of the event make it clear this was widely known to have occurred and the public was shown at the time, the actual cloth and told of the miracle.  It is preposterous that doubters and those who would rewrite history or mock the truth now hundreds of years later would chose to reduce the event to a fairy tale. 
The cornerstone of the Cathedral in Orvieto was layed 
by Pope Nicolas IV to house the consecrated host 
and the famous linen cloth after the Miracle of Bolsena 

This webpage states this:

"In August of 1964, on the 700th anniversary of the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Paul VI celebrated Holy Mass at the altar where the holy corporal is kept in its golden shrine in the Cathedral of Orvieto.  (His Holiness had journeyed to Orvieto by helicopter; he was the first pope in history to use such a means of transportation)."

 [My thoughts:  If the corporal has no connection to the Feast of Corpus Christi, why choose this location for such an important anniversary?]

Twelve years later, the same pontiff visited Bolsena and spoke from there via television to the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, then concluding its activities in Philadelphia.  During his address Pope Paul VI spoke of the Eucharist as being “….. a mystery great and inexhaustible.”

The world will always try its best to draw people away from the truth and it will use any means to make its case, but the relics, the paintings, the written words of our saints and holy popes will forever keep the Catholic faith alive for all Christians who abandon themselves, and surrender to all that is seen and unseen. 

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