Why does Don Emanuele Rosi look so solemn as he passes by the rondine gallery on its opening day so beautifully described in Debra’s recent blog? It’s because he’s celebrating the mystery of transubstantiation, or the Eucharist.
I’m no theologian but I do know that this word, mentioned in Tom Lehrer’s song, the Vatican rag, has divided Christian religions for years to the point of blood-letting.
What it boils down to is this: is the host which is being carried in a religious vessel called a monstrance (from Latin “to display”) a symbol of Christ’s body or has the wafer actually changed into it?
It’s pretty clear what those who followed that procession thought about the subject.
There have also been instances where devotees have seen blood pour from the raised host. The famous miracle of Bolsena is one of them.
On a more feminist note the festival which actually goes under both names of corpus Domini and corpus Christi was thought up by saint Juliana who thought that too much was going on in holy week and that a separate day should be instituted for this most solemn of all Catholic (and some protestant) festivals.
It’s celebrated on the Thursday following trinity Sunday which extols another mystery, that of the three in one, one in three type of godhead which is so characteristic of other faiths, like Hinduism for example.
Which reminds me that I’m now at a family birthday which might seem to taking place somewhere on the Deccan plains but is actually in Wembley, London where besides building an Olympian stadium they have also built an amazing hindu temple.