By Robin Gomes
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, celebrated the solemnity of Corpus Christi in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy, on Sunday, bringing along with him a precious chalice where it originated over five decades ago.
For the occasion, a delegation from Bombay Archdiocese brought the "Golden Lily" chalice which Pope St. Paul VI had gifted the archdiocese when he visited the western Indian city in December 1964.
After celebrating the morning Mass with the “Golden Lily”, Card. Gracias met the wife and son of Marcello Conticelli, the artist who crafted the precious chalice. In the afternoon, he went to nearby Bolsena, the town of the Eucharistic miracle, where he participated in a Eucharistic procession.
Fr. Warner D'Souza, director of the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum in Mumbai, explained that the "Golden Lily" was created by Conticelli and Luciano Coppola based on a design by architect Alberto Stramaccioni.
The chalice was gifted to Pope Paul VI on 11 August 1964, on the occasion of his visit to Orvieto for the celebration of 700 years of the feast of Corpus Christi.
In December of the same year, Pope Paul VI, on an official visit to India on the occasion of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, gifted the chalice to the Archdiocese of Bombay, in what is Mumbai today.
In handing it to the Archbishop of Bombay, the late Cardinal Valerian Gracias, the Pope said: "For the poorest Church in the world, the most precious gift received during my pontificate".
The gold chalice in the shape of a lily honours Orvieto’s Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. With its façade full of golden mosaics and artworks, the cathedral is regarded as the “Golden Lily of the Cathedrals".
The chalice is kept at the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum of Mumbai, the country's second-largest museum of Christian religious art which houses artefacts dating back to the 16th century.
After being displayed at Orvieto’s Museo dell'opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral), June 17 to 22, it will return to India.
The solemnity of Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264 following the Eucharistic miracle in the town of Bolsena.
A Bohemian priest beset by doubts regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was restored to faith when the consecrated host began to bleed during Mass. The altar cloth from Bolsena (stained with the miraculous blood) was brought to Orvieto and is the greatest treasure of its cathedral. (Source: AsiaNews)