The liturgy of the Solemn feast of the Very Holy Body and Blood of Christ came to an end on the notes of the Magnificat at the Holy Sepulchre, celebrated on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th June.
"The Eucharist is all of this,” Mons.PierbattistaPizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who presided the liturgy on both days, said during the commentary on the Gospel. "It nourishes not only our inner and spiritual life but also our affections, our relations, everything that, in short, belongs to the breath that God has breathed into us since the creation of the world (Genesis 2,7) and that makes us people capable of love, of intelligence and of giving. This is what we are celebrating with today’s solemnity.”
As per tradition in the Holy Land, the solemnity is celebrated on the Thursday at the Holy Sepulchre and started with the solemn entrance of the Apostolic Administrator preceding the First Vespers on Wednesday. This is followed, immediately afterward, by the Apostolic Administrator and the seminarians of the Latin Patriarchate taking part in the daily procession with the Franciscan friars, which ends with the compline prayer. During the night, following the liturgy reserved for Lent, the Office of the Vigil is celebrated, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, in front of the Edicule of the Empty Tomb.
Historically established in 1247, the Solemnity was created to underline and celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist after the remembrance of Holy Thursday. Just as the celebrations of the Finding of the Holy Cross help us to approach the mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus even more deeply, this solemnity also allows the faithful to focus their attention on the Eucharist. It is precisely after Easter, these celebrations tell us, that it is possible to meditate in-depth on the mysteries that in the Triduum are celebrated in three days.
Liturgically celebrated on the day of the institution of the Eucharist – the Thursday – of the second week after Pentecost, in some countries of the world the solemnity is moved to the second Sunday after Pentecost, to allow everyone to celebrate it. The celebration is double in the Holy Land: the one at the Sepulchre preserves the original tradition and is celebrated on Thursday. The one at St Francis’ Convent at the Cenacle, on the other hand, takes place on the following Sunday.
"May the solemnity that we are celebrating, then, and the particular time that we are living through, be a reminder, nostalgia, and conversion for us,” said the Apostolic Administrator, concluding his homily. "May it be a reminder of our Christian vocation, of the Church, the community that knows how to offer itself and can live in loss, without feeling lost for this reason. Nostalgia for heaven, to which we already belong, and that we experience in the sacrament." And lastly, conversion: so that the time we are living through allows us to rethink our ways of life, orienting them to "a change in perspective, which is more respectful of the harmony of the created and of the truth of man, which Christ revealed to us."
The celebration ended with the traditional procession made up of going around the Empty Tomb three times, the center of the Anastasis, and once going completely round the Stone of Unction, which anticipated the three solemn blessings with the Very Holy: one in front of the Edicule, a second one at the altar of Mary Magdalene and a third one at the Franciscan Chapel.