CORPUS CHRISTI: 26 MAY 2016
In 2017 the celebration is on 15 June
by Rose Maramba
There’s nothing like an ancient feast to make people stop, look and join fervorously. And that’s what the Corpus Christi celebration does in Toledo. It did this 26th of May. The religious festival was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264 for which Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), later canonized saint, wrote the Mass and Office. Today, in Toledo, Corpus Christi is held under the stewardship of the cardinal primate of Spain. Toledo’s archbishop.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday (60 days after Easter Sunday) when the MAIN EVENT, the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, winds through the narrow medieval streets of historic Toledo.
On the eve of the Eucharistic procession windows and balconies along the route are draped with priceless 16th and 17th-cenrtury pennants and tapestries in readiness for the big day. The streets are strewn with flowers and fragrant herbs making a divinely scented carpet. This is a feast where there’s something to touch each of the senses with mystical power!
At noon, when with bells tolling the procession leaves the cathedral for the Grand Tour of the City, that’s the crowning point – the whole point — of the entire festival. At the heart of the procession is the magnificent Monstrance, in solid gold and adorned with precious stones, holding the Eucharistic host, the Body of Christ, Corpus Christi. A priceless work of art from c. 1517 weighing over 350 pounds! Biblical chants, burning incense and rose petals adoringly thrown to the Custodia – thus the procession makes its way around Toledo.
Guilds, brotherhoods and chapters in full regalia, plus the giants representing the world’s continents, lend a note of pageantry to an otherwise solemn procession. They could hardly fail to touch the spectators to the quick.
And the Toledanos? They all but burst with pride over this tradition which is both religious and cultural. Just as they’re mighty proud that Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the historic co-existence of Christians, Muslims and Jews, thereby making the city an inexhaustible reservoir of cultural and monumental treasures. Toledo is not a City of Three Cultures for nothing.
Visitors take note. Take time out to see and embrace the magic of this bewitching city!
Next year, 2017, Corpus Christi falls on June 15. You’ve got one year to prepare for the festival. Unless you’d rather come sooner?
By the way, it isn’t that Corpus Christi isn’t celebrated throughout Spain. It’s that Toledo takes the cake.
>Featured image, a street in Toledo decorated for Corpus Christi, with the Cathedral tower providing the backdrop, by Noelibe84 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Noelibe84&action=edit&redlink=1), CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
>Solemn procession by Francisco Javier Martin Fernández (Wikimedia file), CC By 2.0 Generic
>Pageantry by Francisco Javier Martín Fernández (Wikimedia file), CC BY 2.0 Generic
>Monstrance by Francisco Javier Martin Fernández (Wikimedia file), CC BY 2.0 Generic
>Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue by Roy Lindman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page), CC BY SA 3.0 Unported
>Cathedral of Toledo by Michal Osmenda (https://www.flickr.com/people/97006177@N00), CC BY2.0 Generic
>Mosque of Cristo de la Luz by Ignasilm (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Ignasilm&action=edit&redlink=1) CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
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