The Holy Father presided at the Eucharistic celebration in the churchyard of the parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice.
Following Mass, there was a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Rome’s Casal Bertone neighbourhood, which was led by Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis and ended at the football field adjacent Casa Serena, a reception facility for the homeless of the Missionaries of Charity. The length of the procession was 1.2 km or about three-quarters of a mile.
Members of the parish sang during the Mass and served at the altar. The readers of the Prayer of the Faithful and the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion come from seven neighbouring parishes: St Barnabas, St Helen, St Julia Billiart, St Joseph Cafasso, St Leo I, St Luke the Evangelist, and Saints Marcelino and Peter.
Last June, Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in Ostia. That was the first time Pope Francis departed from the tradition of celebrating the feast on Thursday, which is the day on which it is celebrated in the Vatican.
Generally, he and previous popes would celebrate the liturgy on Thursday evening at St John Lateran, and the procession would proceed down the Via Merulana to the Basilica of St Mary Major.
On the peripheries
This year, Pope Francis chose this parish on the periphery of Italy’s capital city of Rome. Ahead of the celebration, Father Giuseppe Midili who heads the Diocese’s Liturgical Office said, “The Eucharist celebrated in the midst of the people – in the town square, a place that gathers people together, where people habitually see each other – highlights how participation at Mass promotes communion with God and among ourselves.”
An auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Jesuit Daniele Libanori, said, “The Pope chose to go to the periphery because that is where the sufferings the people live are to be found—real life. It is a sign of his concern for those living in Rome, a way of showing he is near….”
To get to where they work in the city every day is complicated, Bishop Libanori added. “The historic center is very beautiful, filled with offices and practically besieged with tourists. Not many Romans actually live there, the majority live areas on the periphery”.
Another priest, Father Lani, said “the parishioners are looking forward to” the Pope’s visit. The celebration of this Mass, he said, will inaugurate the festivities surrounding the 75th anniversary of the parish.
Pope Francis is the fourth Pope to visit the parish, following his predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. From 1977 to 1993, Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was the Titular Cardinal of this parish.
Catechists prepared the children for this feast through a type of Summer Camp that began on 10 June.
It consisted of periods of reflection and games that helped the children unpack various Gospel episodes such as the multiplication of the bread, the wedding at Cana, the disciples of Emmaus, and the feast of Corpus Domini itself.
The parish held a day-long period of perpetual adoration on Thursday to prepare spiritually for Pope Francis’ visit.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.