Feast of Corpus Christi - ¿When and why is it celebrated?

23 Jun 2025

Date 2024

Monday, 3 of June

Date 2025

Monday, 23 of June

Official: Feast of Corpus Christi
Others: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ Corpus Domini
Spanish: Corpus Christi Cuerpo de Cristo Solemnidad del Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo
Corpus Christi celebration in Choachí, Cundinamarca, Colombia Corpus Christi celebration in Choachí, Cundinamarca

Corpus Christi is one of the most important traditional holidays for Catholics around the world.

Its date changes every year since it is calculated based on the lunar calendar. In most countries, Corpus Christi is celebrated on the Thursday of the second week after Pentecost, which is equivalent to 60 days after Easter Sunday.

In Colombia, the date of Corpus Christi can be calculated by counting 64 days from Resurrection Sunday (Easter Sunday). Every year this holiday always falls on a Monday.

Meaning of the celebration

Corpus Christi is the celebration that honors the body and blood of Christ, which is made present in bread and wine in each Eucharist.

It is celebrated on a Thursday, as an extension of Holy Thursday, when Jesus dined with the disciples. Despite the tension and fear caused by the persecution of Jesus, and the betrayal by Judas, Jesus spoke to them about friendship, about how to have strong relationships between them. He asked that every time they break bread and drink wine, they remember him.

This is how the Eucharist was established as thanksgiving. The Corpus Christi party recalls that Jesus wanted to give himself fully and in each Eucharist he transmits this message: it is possible to be transformed in love, just as bread and wine are transformed on the altar.

The texts of the liturgy with which this feast is celebrated were written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV, who instituted the solemnity of Corpus Christi. They are considered theological and poetic texts of great value.

Where and how is it celebrated?

In Colombia, the Corpus Christi liturgy is usually celebrated on the Sunday before the holiday. Unlike other festivals, the customs and activities are usually carried out only by the most religious people.

In many chapels processions are carried out and the Blessed Sacrament is left exposed surrounded by flowers. For this solemn party it is common to decorate the altars with grapes, wheat and hosts.

One of the most traditional celebrations occurs in Anolaima, Cundinamarca, where a special celebration takes place in the central square. The peasants install bamboo arches and decorate them with fruits and vegetables. Then the Corpus Christi processions pass between the arches to the delight of thousands of visitors. The bows with the most beautiful compositions are awarded. During that weekend the Day of the Farmer is also celebrated, which includes bands, orchestras, float parades and contests.

Origin of the Feast of Corpus Christi

The solemnity of Corpus Christi arises from the doubt of a priest, Peter of Prague, who had difficulties believing in the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ. In the year 1264, in Italy, Peter of Prague received a response signal. During the mass he was celebrating, the host dripped blood over the corporal. This fact is known as the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena.

Other public holidays