Born near Liege, Belgium in 1192 and orphaned by the age of five, Juliana was raised under the care of the Augustinian nuns at Mount Cornillon where she developed an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
According to Butler's Lives of the Saints as revised by Father Herbert Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, "from the time when she was about sixteen she was haunted day and night by the appearance of a bright moon streaked with a dark band. Occasionally she feared lest it might be a device of the devil to distract her from prayer, but usually she felt convinced that it had some deep supernatural meaning if only she could grasp it. At last she had a dream or vision in which our Lord explained that the moon was the Christian year with its round of festivals and that the black band denoted the absence of the one holy day required to complete the cycle-a feast in honor of the Blessed Sacrament." (Vol. II, p.37) Juliana became a nun at Mount Cornillon and in 1225 was elected prioress. She then began to speak about
what she felt was her mission to two women, a recluse now known as Blessed Eva and Isabel of Huy, a saintly woman whom Juliana received into her community.
Encouraged by these two, she opened her heart to John of Lausanne, a canon of St. Martin's, and asked him to consult theologians about the propriety of such a feast. Since there was no objection, Bishop Robert of Liegeordered in 1246 that the feast be celebrated in his diocese the following year.
The bishop died, however, before his order could be executed and after his death, Juliana, now persecuted as a false visionary, was forced to leave her monastery. Dogged by misfortune, she lived as an exile in poverty and sickness until her own death in 1258. Three years later Jacques Pentaleon, one of the theologians who had earlier been consulted about the propriety of the feast of Corpus Christi, was elected pope and took the name Urban IV. It was then that Juliana's good friend, the Blessed Eva, through the bishop of Liege begged the Sovereign Pontiff to extend the feast of
Corpus Christi to the universal Church. By the papal bull "Transiturus," issued in 1264, Urban IV decreed that the feast of Corpus Christi be annually celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. The death of Urban shortly after the publication of "Transiturus" impeded the spread of the feast, but almost fifty years later Clement V at the Council of Vienne once more ordered the yearly celebration of Corpus Christi on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.
Before he died Pope Urban both appointed St. Thomas Aquinas to write the Office for the new feast and approved the work submitted by the Angelic Doctor. One of the most remarkable compositions for this or any other Office is the "Pange Lingua," the hymn sung at Vespers on Corpus Christi. Comprised of six stanzas of six lines each, this hymn is sung in its entirety on Holy Thursday when the celebrant after Mass carries the Eucharist to the altar of repose. It is also sung whenever there is a Eucharistic procession. The final two stanzas are familiar to most Catholics because they are always sung during Benediction of the most Blessed Sacrament.
After speaking of the sacrifice of the cross, St. Thomas says that Christ left us His body and blood to be received under the appearance of bread and wine so that we may be ever mindful of the great benefit of His redemptive death.
The sermon also teaches that the whole Christ is present under each particle of bread or drop of wine and that the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere to the substance of Christ's body or the substance of Christ's blood but miraculously exist without inhering in any substance.
From an article by Fr. James Buckley FSSP
Director of Spirituality,
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, Denton, Nebraska, USA.