Cardinal Vincent Nichols has declared Corpus Christi Church in Covent Garden to be the Westminster Diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament.
When the delightful little Corpus Christi church in Maiden Lane was opened in 1874 it was only the second church in England to have the dedication.
St Juliana of Liege, who in the 13th century relayed God’s desire for the feast to a sceptical hierarchy, is depicted in a window.
The grotto-like building, a hidden gem, has ben beautifully restored.
The church features in Graham Greene’s End of the Affair.
Past worshippers include poet Francis Thompson and Radclyffe Hall whose novel The Well of Loneliness was the first to have a lesbian theme.
On Sunday the Mass of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi celebrated by the Cardinal included the hymn Sweet Sacrament divine written by former parish priest Francis Stanfield.
Those providing the music included two Royal Opera House singers.
The Pontifical Mass was followed by a Corpus Christi procession round the market.
Going with Christ into the market place is huge privilege and part of mission.
But it is fascinating to see how few recognise what is happening.
As the procession passed under the wonderful high portal of St Paul’s Church there was an acrobatic entertainment continuing a few feet away. This was not bad manners. It was a lack of recognition and awareness.
The Maiden Lane church could make the procession an annual event and maybe follow the example of All Saints Margaret Street whose congregation gives out leaflets containing an explanation to puzzled onlookers as its procession passes along Oxford Street.
Today Thursday 31 May is Corpus Christi when we give thanks for the gift of Holy Communion.
We do this because from about 1208 St Juliana of Liege received messages from God suggesting that we should do so. She had a long struggle to convince all the male clergy that this was God’s wish.
The idea was that having just finished the Easter season we should give thanks with joy in a way we could not on Maundy Thursday. Then we acknowledged what happened at the Last Supper but were entering deep into the challenge of Holy Week.
Some countries do not keep the feast today, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday as known to Juliana, but for convenience next Sunday.
In the British Isles we are divided. Anglicans observe Corpus Christi today whilst Roman Catholics wait until Sunday.
Today 31 May is The Visitation which Roman Catholics are observing.
There are exceptions on both sides. At Arundel Cathedral, which is Roman Catholic, the festival is today with a traditional carpet of flowers and street procession. Some Anglican churches will have their procession on Sunday.
St Juliana of Liege is depicted in a window at Corpus Christi Church in Covent Garden which is keeping the feast tonight Thursday as well as Sunday morning when the Mass will be followed by an outdoor procession at about noon.
Tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday of Easter but it is often known as Rogation Sunday because we are about to have several Rogation days in the lead up to Ascension Day on Thursday.
We are coming to the climax of Easter when Jesus, having risen on Easter Day, now ascends to heaven thus ending his earthly appearances.
Rogation is a time when we ask a blessing for the crops or trace out the parish boundary by beating its bounds.
The two ceremonies are often combined.
At Southwell Minster the 10.30am Rogationtide Service is followed by the traditional procession across countryside to Brackenhurst where the agricultural college kindly hosts a light lunch.
At Mudeford on Sunday afternoon 3pm the church congregation, local people and visitors will stand on the quay and watch a priest from the parish church take to the water and pray for a good fish harvest.
Mudeford is on the Dorset/Hampshire border and at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour where salmon are caught.
But next Thursday clergy and school children from All Hallows-by-the-Tower take to the River Thames as part of beating the bounds.