We adore you, true Body of Christ!
On Sunday evening, 18 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity,
50,000 of the faithful gathered with the Holy Father in St Peter's
Square to celebrate the opening of the 47th International
Eucharistic Congress with Vespers and Eucharistic adoration,
followed by Benediction. The beauty of the celebration was enhanced
by the presence of many Italian confraternities that had brought
handmade crucifixes, statues, banners and other objects of sacred
art to express their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Following
the liturgical reading (Eph 3:14-4:6), the Pope preached on the
Eucharist as the living memorial of Christ's redeeming sacrifice and
the centre of the Mystical Body's life and unity. Here is a
translation of his homily, which was given in Italian.
1. "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were
called to the one hope that belongs to your call" (Eph
One body! At these solemn Vespers, with which we open the International
Eucharistic Congress, it is on the Apostle Paul's words that our
attention is particularly focused this evening. One Body: our
thoughts turn first of all to the Body of Christ. The Bread of
At the Last Supper, Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary 2,000
years ago, wanted to leave us his Body and his Blood, sacrificed for
all humanity. The Church, his Mystical Body, gathers round the
Eucharist, the sacrament of his love for us. See: Christ and the
Church, one body, one great mystery. Mysterium fidei!
2. Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!
—Hail, true Body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary! Born
when the time had fully come, born of woman, born under the law (cf.
In the heart of the Great Jubilee and at the beginning of this
week dedicated to the Eucharistic Congress, we return to that
historic event which marked the fulfilment of our salvation. Let us
kneel as the shepherds did before the manger in Bethlehem; like the
Magi who came from the East, let us adore Christ, the Saviour of the
world. Like the aged Simeon, let us hold him in our arms, blessing
God because our eyes have seen the salvation which he has prepared
in the presence of all peoples: a light for revelation to the
Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel (cf. Lk 2:30-32).
You, Lord, are the living Bread come down from heaven
Let us retrace the stages of his earthly life to Calvary, to the
glory of the Resurrection. In the days ahead, it will be in the
Upper Room especially that we will pause to reflect on what Christ
Jesus did and suffered for us.
3. "In supremae nocte cenae ... se dat suis manibus".
At the Last Supper, while celebrating the Passover with his
disciples, Christ offered himself for us. Yes, gathered for the
International Eucharistic Congress, the Church returns in these days
to the Upper Room and remains there in thoughtful adoration. She
relives the great mystery of the Incarnation, focusing her gaze on
the sacrament in which Christ gave us the memorial of his Passion:
"This is my body which is given for you..... This cup ...
poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Lk
Ave, verum corpus ... vere passum, immolatum!
We adore you, true Body of Christ, present in the Sacrament of
the new and eternal Covenant, living memorial of the redeeming
sacrifice. You, Lord, are the living Bread come down from heaven,
who gives life to man! On the Cross you gave your flesh for the life
of the world (cf. Jn 6:5 1): in cruce pro homine!
The human mind is astonished at so sublime a mystery. But
strengthened by divine grace, it dares to repeat with faith:
Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
quae sub his figuris vere latitas.
I adore you devoutly, O Godhead unseen,
who truly lie hidden under these appearances.
4. "One body, and one Spirit, just as you were called to
the one hope that belongs to your call" (Eph 4:4).
In these words, which we have just heard, the Apostle Paul speaks
of the Church, the community of believers gathered together in the
unity of one body, enlivened by the same Spirit and sustained by
sharing the same hope. Paul is thinking of the reality of Christ's
Mystical Body, which finds in his Eucharistic Body its own vital
centre from which the energy of grace flows to all its members.
The Apostle says: "The bread which we break, is it not a
participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we
who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread"
(1 Cor 10: 16-17). Thus all of us, the baptized, become members of
that body and therefore individually members one of another (cf. 1
Cor 12:27; Rom 12:5). With heartfelt gratitude let us thank God, who
made the Eucharist the sacrament of our full communion with him and
with our brothers and sisters.
5. This evening, with the solemn Vespers of the Blessed Trinity,
we are beginning an unusually full week which will see Bishops and
priests, religious and lay people from every part of the world
gathered round the Eucharist. It will be an extraordinary experience
of faith and an eloquent testimony of ecclesial communion.
Congress invites us to renew our faith in the real presence
I greet you, dear brothers and sisters who are taking part in
this Jubilee event, which can be regarded as the heart of the entire
Holy Year. I extend my greeting in particular to the faithful of the
Diocese of Rome, our Diocese, which, under the guidance of the
Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishops, and with the collaboration
of the clergy, the religious and many generous lay people, has
prepared the various aspects of the Eucharistic Congress. It is
ready to ensure that the Congress will run smoothly in the days
ahead, conscious of the honour it has in hosting this central event
of the Great Jubilee.
I would also like to extend a special greeting to the many
confraternities meeting in Rome for a significant "Fraternity
Walk". Their presence, made more impressive by the artistic
crosses and precious sacred images carried on majestic
"machines", creates a worthy setting for the Eucharistic
celebration which has brought us here together.
The minds and hearts of so many of the faithful dispersed
throughout the world converge on this square. I invite everyone,
individual believers and ecclesial communities from every corner of
the earth, to share with us these moments of sublime Eucharistic
spirituality. I especially ask children and the sick, as well as
contemplative communities, to pray for the happy and fruitful
success of this world Eucharistic meeting.
6. The Eucharistic Congress also invites us to renew our faith in
the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of the altar: Ave,
At the same time, we receive the urgent appeal for the
reconciliation and unity of all believers: "one body ....
one faith, one baptism"! Divisions and disagreements still
rend the body of Christ and prevent Christians of different
confessions from sharing the one Eucharistic Bread. Therefore, let
us pray together for the healing power of divine mercy, which is
superabundant in this Jubilee Year.
And you, O Christ, the only Head and Saviour, draw all your
members to yourself. Unite them and transform them in your love, so
that the Church may shine with that supernatural beauty which is
resplendent in the saints of every era and nation, in the martyrs,
in the confessors, in the virgins and in the countless witnesses to
O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie,
O Iesu, fili Mariae!