In the Belgian town of Liege this year’s Corpus Christi on Thursday 20 June is being described as the 773rd.
Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville of Liège says: “I am delighted by the growing interest of so many people from Liège and elsewhere for this intangible and spiritual patrimonial treasure of our city. Under the impetus of mystical and socially committed women, especially Saint Julienne de Cornillon, Corpus Christi was created in 1246 in Liège by my predecessor.
It was Saint Julienne de Cornillon, or Juliana as she in known in Britain, who conveyed Christ’s wish that we should have this extra festival in the church calendar. We needed to be able to say thank you for the gift of Holy Communion with a joy that is difficult on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week.
This is why Corpus Christi is on a Thursday although many now celebrate on the nearest Sunday.
Most, but not all, Roman Catholic churches in England and Wales will mark it on Sunday.
The exceptions include Arundel Cathedral where a street procession to the castle follows Mass.
This delightful little church has an image of St Juliana in a window behind the high altar. After Sunday morning’s Mass there is procession round the Covent Garden piazza and passing, in an ecumenical gesture, under the porch of St Paul’s Church.
Trinity Sunday marks the end of the great liturgies of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
We are about to enter ordinary time. This is time is live out the faith after the renewal of the Easter season.
The ancient celebrations will be found this weekend at Kirtlington in Oxfordshire where there is the Lamb Ale feast with lots of morris dancing.
At Rothwell in Northamptonshire the ‘Rowell Fair’ opens at 3pm in the afternoon following a civic service in Holy Trinity Church. The ancient traditional celebrations are on Trinity Monday starting at 6am outside Rothwell Church.
Trinity Sunday, in honour of God the father, Son and Holy Spirit, was invented in Liege and brought to England from Normandy by St Thomas Becket when Archbishop of Canterbury.
Liege also gave us Corpus Christi which is observed later in the week or next Sunday.
All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London is well-known for its Ascension Day beating the bounds because the boundary runs down the middle of the Thames. The party sets out at 4.15pm to beat each boundary mark with sticks and pray for protection and blessings. At Tower Pier several people board a vessel to reach the invisible boundary . Visitors are welcome to join the congregation on the tour.
St Bartholomew the Great in London’s Smithfield, which has a new policy of keeping feast days on the actual day (rather than the nearest Sunday), is restoring its custom of beating the bounds on Ascension Day.
After the 7pm Choral Eucharist on Thursday the churchwardens, choir, congregation and children will follow the short parish boundary and call at the pubs.
On Wednesday 1 May the calendar provides more confusion. It manages to be not only May Day but also St Philip and St James’s Day or St Joseph the Worker Day.
The May Day carol The winter’s sleep was long and deep mentions ‘two saints of God’.
But the universal calendar moved Philip and James to 3 May in 1955 to allow for May Day to be St Joseph the Worker Day giving the Virgin Mary’s husband two special days each year. We kept St Joseph’s Day during Lent.
However, Mary has the whole month. May is the Month of Mary. This tradition started in about 1826 whilst soon John Ruskin was instrumental in the spread of the May Queen custom in schools.
So May Day is the occasion to celebrate working people along with carpenter St Joseph, the coming of spring and summer and honour the Virgin Mary.
It used to be generally called Low Sunday although it is uncertain why. Was it because of a low attendance or less exuberance than last week?
Today is the Second Sunday of Easter but since Millennium Year many call it Divine Mercy Sunday because St Faustina Kowalska, canonised in 2000, claimed that this is the wish of Jesus.
This year, as we remember the Notre Dame de Paris fire, it might be tempting to use the very old name Quasimodo Sunday after the entrance antiphon Quasi modo geniti infantes meaning Like newborn infants.
Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia. 1 Peter 2.2
In Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris novel, the hunchback is called Quasimodo because when a child he was found abandoned in the cathedral porch on Quasimodo Sunday.