What, or rather Who, truly feeds the hunger for live and happiness that lives in our heart? This question is answered by the solemnity of Corpus Christi (Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). “Man’s heart wants life, it wants love, it wants a real presence, it wants God”: this is the message that comes from Jerusalem. Here the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided the celebrations of the solemnity in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
In the afternoon of Wednesday 7th June, the Patriarch made his solemn entry into the Basilica and presided the First Vespers of Corpus Christi. This was followed by the daily procession of the Franciscans, presided by fr. Stéphane Milovitch, President of the Holy Sepulchre. The procession stopped at various places in the Basilica, including the chapel of St Helena and the Calvary. The procession went around the Edicule three times and stopped in front of the altar of Mary Magdalene. It came to an end in the Franciscan chapel known as the Chapel of the Apparition. When the procession was over, the Franciscans recited the Compline. Later, fr. Alessandro Coniglio presided the evocative celebration of the Office of the Vigil, in the heart of the night in front of the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.
Thursday was the day of the Solemn Mass of Corpus Christi. After entering the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the Patriarch presided Lauds and the eucharistic celebration in front of the Edicule. The homily was a heartfelt call not to give in to the dominant mentality that “wants to convince us that man lives by bread alone, that things or objects are enough.” But “our heart knows that bread is not enough. The heart of man wants life, it wants love, it wants a real presence, it wants God.” In 1247, in Belgium, the feast day of Corpus Christi came into being precisely to celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and to fight the theories that reduced it to a symbol or metaphor. In 1264, Pope Urban IV extended the solemnity to the whole of the Church.
Today’s solemnity, celebrated in front of the Edicule of the Anastasis, takes us to the heart of the Easter mysteries: “Celebrating Corpus Christi is to celebrate the Truth and the Reality of the Life of Christ and the Truth of our life in Him. Yes, because Christ is true, he is real, he is the Living One. Only His Love, His bread and His Word crossed the desert of evil and of death and did not die: because only ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day’ (John 6,54).
At the end of the Mass, there was the solemn procession with the Most Blessed Sacrament, to the singing of eucharistic hymns: after having gone around the Edicule three times (the last time including a halt at the “Stone of Unction”) the Patriarch entered the Edicule with the Blessed Sacrament. The Most Blessed Sacrament was then adored by the faithful and blessed by the Patriarch in three different places: on the threshold of the Edicule, in front of the altar of Mary Magdalene and in the Franciscan chapel of the Apparition.