Corpus Christi is Latin for 'Body of Christ'. It is a festival that celebrates the Holy Sacrament - which is an intrinsic part of the Christian Church. At Mass (Holy Communion) 'the Body of Christ' and 'the Blood of Christ' are given in the form of bread and wine to Communicants (those who have been confirmed into the church). Often Corpus Christi is a time of First Communion for those just newly confirmed.
It takes place in May/June and echoes the traditions all over Europe from Pagan times of hallowing in Summer and offering floral tributes.
It was a festival introduced in the 13th Century as part of the Counter Reformation - reclaiming the Catholic traditions that had been destroyed in the Reformation. This started with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry 8th, and continued with the Puritan movement and Oliver Cromwell. The festival was prompted by miracles featuring bleeding 'Hosts' Bread - Body of Christ).
The Counter Reformation reasserted the belief in transubstantiation - that is the actual and real presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine of communion, as opposed to it merely being representational.
Corpus Christi at All Saints, Nottinghill.
Corpus Christi has been celebrated at All Saints since Fr Twisaday's time. At 5 a.m. on the Friday before Corpus Christi weekend, Father Brownsell is to be found at the wonderful and huge New Covent Gardens Flower Market buying up to £300 of stocks, laurel leaves-plain and speckled, rose petals and peonies. Transport is kindly provided by a longstanding member of the congregation. Later that evening (after Holy hour) , members of All Saints who wish to help prepare the flowers (taking petals/flowers and leaves off stems) ready for use on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, a chalk design is drawn on the aisle of the church and this forms the template which after a couple of hours is filled with the beautiful colours and scent of fresh flowers. The design includes a Communion Cup (Blood of Christ), Wafer, (Body of Christ), a Holy Dove ( Holy Spirit ) and chosen words eg Angelus and the date.
Members of All Saints giving a helping hand
I remember the surprise and delight I felt when I first walked into
All Saints on Corpus Christi Sunday some years ago and saw this carpet
of flowers. I knew nothing of the festival - and I felt like a child
again - enchanted by the magical and unexpected sight of nature
brought into the Church! The aisle is cordoned off at the start of
the service so the flowers remain untrampled . However, after
Communion a procession leads out of the Church to walk around the
local area - headed by the Vicar and Servers, followed by members
of the congregation which walks over the carpet of petals.
The procession led by Priests carrying the Cross and Holy Sacrament, is an old tradition and way of "Witness" of Church Members amongst the wider community in the area. Witnessing the Christian faith.
The Finish Carpet of Flowers
On return to the Church the flowers have been cleared away and the service concludes. The memory of this special day lives on for me and serves as one of the magical occasions in the Christian calendar.
We have been asked for views of this year design of this year's carpet of flowers Corpus Christi 2016