The Feast of Corpus Christi was once one of the most elaborately celebrated religious holidays at Notre Dame. When the academic year ran through June, clergy, students, faculty, and community members celebrated the holy day with Mass, Vespers, and procession of the Eucharist through campus. Students decorated the procession path with flowers, banners, flags, and arches. They sang hymns and the band played as they processed around St. Joseph’s Lake in the 19th century or around the buildings of Main Quad in the 20th century.
Corpus Christi Benediction in front of Walsh Hall –
Revs. T. Maher and Peter Franciscus, CSC, 1910
In the 19th century, the celebrations were so grand that they drew large crowds from the local community. In 1876, three thousand people participated in the Corpus Christi celebrations, drawing people from as far as sixteen miles away (Scholastic, 06/17/1876). Scholastic often reported details of the Corpus Christi festivities and below is the account from 1872:
Scholastic article detailing the Corpus Christi
celebrations at Notre Dame, 1872
Elaborate celebrations of Corpus Christi waned over the years. However, Campus Ministry reinstated an annual Eucharistic Procession through campus several years ago. These new processions accommodate the current academic calendar, as opposed to being held on the actual Feast of Corpus Christi. Photos of Eucharistic Processions from the past few years can be found at photos.nd.edu.
Corpus Christi procession leaving the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1964