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.
Outdoor processions this evening Thursday (weather permitting) include noted ones at Arundel Cathedral (after 5.30pm Mass), London’s All Saints Margaret Street W1 (after 6.30pm Mass) where the route includes Oxford Street, St Martin’s Liege (after 7pm Mass ) in Belgium and St Michael’s Bedford Park (after 8pm Mass).