Corpus Christi: the Solemnity at the Holy Sepulchre | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Corpus Christi: the Solemnity at the Holy Sepulchre

After the cancellation of the local anti-Covid rules of 1 June, the Custody of the Holy Land, the religious, and the local church celebrated the solemnity of Corpus Christi (or "Corpus Domini") on Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 June at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Faithful to tradition, the celebrations started on Wednesday 2 June, with the solemn entrance of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His BeatitudePierbattistaPizzaballa. Immediately after the Patriarch with the seminarians, the priests of the Patriarchate, the friars of the Custody, together with the religious and the few pilgrims and local faithful, celebrated the first vespers facing the edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.

After Vespers, they all took part in the solemn procession of the Franciscan friars through the holy places in the Basilica, to then end with the compline.

According to the liturgy of the Sunday celebrations in Lent, during the night the Office of the Vigil presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, was celebrated in front of the Edicule of the Empty Tomb.

The next day, after a new entrance into the Holy Sepulchre, the Patriarch presided Lauds and the Solemn Mass. Between the two moments,H.E.Mons. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Emeritus Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, invited the assembly to remember in prayer the priests who are celebrating the jubilee of their priestly ordination. “On today’s solemnity, we read the same Gospel that the Church proclaims on the evening of Holy Thursday,” His Beatitude Pizzaballa said during his homily. "Even nowadays, when the immediate and “now and straight away” are apparently a social conquest, the Eucharist remains a mystery that needs time, welcome and understanding." After the comment on the passage from the Gospel, he then dwelled on the first reading and on the experience of the disciples who carry out and listen to what Jesus says, trusting him completely even although they did not have the instruments to understand."May the mystery that we are celebrating on the altar really become for all of us a way of life, a continuous gifting of the self, freely and gratuitously,"Pizzaballa concluded, inviting the assembly to pray for the priests who are in a time of particular fatigue and for the local Church, “divided and injured by hatred and resentment.In the face of such hatred and resentment, the Eucharist must become for us the source from which we draw the strength the bear witness to love and encounter, in spite of everything.”

Established in 1247, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi was created to underline and celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist after the commemoration of Holy Thursday. Like the celebration of the Discovery of the Holy Cross, these solemnities help us to approach in an even deeper way the mystery of the Passion and the Death of Jesus, focusing – on this occasion -  attention on the Eucharist. It is precisely after Easter, these celebrations tell us, that it is possible to meditate deeply on the mysteries that in the Triduum are celebrated in three days.

In the Holy Land, the celebration is twofold: that of the Sepulchre keeps the original tradition and is celebrated on the Thursday, whereas the one at the Convent of St Francis at the Cenacle takes place the following Sunday and is presided by the Custos of the Holy Land.


Giovanni Malaspina