Corpus Domini Needs Your Explanations!

Baptized Lutheran and raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, I am not well versed in Catholic Liturgical ritual – I need you and your comments to round this out for me.  What!? You said – how could this nice Italian girl not be Catholic?  Mio nonno refused to let anyone go to the Catholic Church because the priest was boinking the area wives.  Grandpa conducted mass in the house!    Enough about me, let’s talk about Corpus Domini!  it was 9:00 PM and the sounds of bombs bursting in the air still surrounded us.  No need to duck and cover this is the end of the Corpus Domini Processione.  Hundreds of Pontelandolfese went to mass at 6:00 PM and at 7:20 started processing through the hilly streets –  stopping at small alters around the town.


Thanks to

Every year, sixty days after Easter, the Church celebrates “Corpus Domini”: a religious solemnity in honor of the Eucharist (the ‘body’ – corpus – of Christ in the sacramental sign of bread): an observance that first developed in Italy the thirteenth century and in 1263 was extended by Pope Urban IV to all of Christian Europe. In Florence as elsewhere, from that period the feast has been celebrated in solemn fashion, with a majestic procession in which the Eucharistic bread is borne through the city streets in a glass container know as a ‘monstrance’, which allows people to see the consecrated bread wafer. This procession acquired ever greater importance with the passage of time.

Here is what I saw that was so interesting – these are the rituals I want you to talk about!!


Note the Satin Drapes.

1. Driving down to the piazza we saw women hanging out what looked like their best lace tablecloths, satin bedspreads, fancy linen sheets etc.  Check out the first photo – see some on the right.  These things were waving like banners in the wind. At first we thought it was laundry but Jack remembered reading that when Henry the 8th came to a village everyone had to hang out their best fabrics to honor his coming.  In Bar Elimar I asked our friend Gennaio why the piazza was festooned with lace and he said it was an ancient ritual to celebrate the king – in this case Jesus.  What do you know???


Flowers on EVERY Street Light, Column, Pole.

2. We also saw that yellow wild flowers were tied in bunches on every single upright thing leading into town.  Wild flowers – yellow – ANY IDEAS?  This morning I asked my favorite barista, Marilina, and she said because they are wild and always in bloom this time of year.  That makes them free.  What is YOUR TAKE??

3. All of the children who last week celebrated their first communion were leading the procession.  The boys were tossing rose petals and the girls were sporting flower crowns and looked like the promised vestal virgins.  Since this event celebrates communion it makes sense that the children were involved – but how come the tossed flower petals????    4. Are exterior alters set up in American towns?  A big one was set up in front of the cemetery – which I thought made sense – tombs – rising up – celebration of second coming etc.  Is the cemetery always part of the procession?


This is outside the cemetery.

5. Is this celebrated in the USA with processions etc?  Are there the sounds of bombs bursting and fireworks?? Today’s regional newspapers were full of pictures and stories of the processions in towns all over Compania.

Come on folks – fill in the blanks for me and everyone else that doesn’t know.  Let us have popping comment conversations.  THE FIRST PERSON TO POST A COMMENT GETS A BIG VIRTUAL HUG FROM ME!

6 thoughts on “Corpus Domini Needs Your Explanations!

  1. Sorry Midge, Although I was raised Catholic and grew up in an Italian neighborhood this was not a tradition “my” Italians took part in. They did process with the monstrance but the only flowers the kids worked with were roses to crown the virgin in May. Looking forward to learning more about this myself.


  2. Good thing this isn’t the Daily Double because I failed on every question. Never having been a Catholic I’m now living in Calvinist Holland. The other major religion IS Catholicism but, living in a city, we don’t see much ritual in the streets. As a child I would quiz kids in school on their catechism. Here in the Netherlands Ascension Day (when Jesus’ soul ascended to heaven) and Whitsun Days (when the Holy Spirit ascended on the earth) are National Holidays where everything is closed. I heard a lot of church bells but that was it. Good luck on this quest. I’ll be looking forward to the sequel.


  3. Ah geeez…and I even had Catholic Envy and sneaked into Flagtown church for summer school….I failed the quiz. I just know that it all sounds magical and I love ritual and wish sometimes that i was raised Catholic…(shit, did I say that) oh…but without the guilt!


  4. I was raised Catholic, along with 12 years of Catholic school and we never celebrated Corpus Domini. This time of year started with Lent, then Holy Week, including Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Forty days after Easter is Ascension Thursday, celebrating Christ’s ascension into Heaven. Lastly is Pentecost Sunday, which celebrates the Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles. However, again, I never took part in a Mass or celebration associated with Corpus Domini. So I can’t help you.


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