By Robin Gomes
For the first time since 1982, a Pope will not preside over the Eucharistic procession in Rome on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or the Body of Christ this year.
Instead, Pope Francis will travel on Sunday to the sea-side city of Ostia, some 25 km from Rome, where he will celebrate the feast.
Corpus Christi celebrates the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist - His body and blood.
According to a communique from the Vatican’s Prefecture of the Papal Household on April 28, the Pope will celebrate Holy Mass in the evening on June 3 in the square in front of the church of St. Monica parish.
After Mass, the Eucharistic procession with the Blessed Sacrament will start from St. Monica and conclude near the parish of Our Lady of Bonaria with the Eucharistic benediction by the Holy Father.
Rome tradition ends
St. Pope John Paul II in 1982 brought back the tradition of the Corpus Christi Procession to the streets of Rome after a gap of some 100 years.
The torch-lit Eucharistic procession with the Blessed Sacrament on a flatbed truck used to start after a papal Mass in front of the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran in the evening and end up with the Eucharistic benediction at the nearby St. Mary Major Basilica.
All faithful interested in the Papal Mass and the procession were welcome.
This year, the Corpus Christi procession in Rome comes to an end after 36 years.
The solemnity of Corpus Christi is traditionally celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which this year was last Sunday, May 27. Thursday, June 31, was Corpus Christi holiday in the Vatican.
In the past, the Corpus Christi processions have been held in Rome on Thursdays after Trinity Sunday, but last year, Pope Francis moved it to the following Sunday, saying more people would be free to join and it would cause less inconvenience to the people with closed roads and traffic diversion.
Many countries around the world have already been holding the procession on a Sunday.