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Saint Juliana of Cornillon

Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament
Born c 1191/2 in Retinnes, Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Died 5 April 1258, Fosses-la-Ville, County of Namur
Canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1869
Feast day - 6 April

Catechesis by Benedict XVI
General Audience, Wednesday 17 November 2010 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and dear sisters,
This morning too I would like to introduce a female figure to you. She is little known but the Church is deeply indebted to her, not only because of the holiness of her life but also because, with her great fervour, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important solemn liturgies of the year: Corpus Christi. She is St Juliana de Cornillon, also known as St Juliana of Liège. We know several facts about her life, mainly from a biography that was probably written by a contemporary cleric; it is a collection of various testimonies of people who were directly acquainted with the Saint.

Juliana was born near Liège, Belgium between 1191 and 1192. It is important to emphasize this place because at that time the diocese of Liège was, so to speak, a true “Eucharistic Upper Room”. Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and, again in Liège, there were groups of women generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Guided by exemplary priests, they lived together, devoting themselves to prayer and to charitable works.

Orphaned at the age of five, Juliana, together with her sister Agnes, was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns at the convent and leprosarium of Mont-Cornillon. She was taught mainly by a sister called “Sapienza” [wisdom], who was in charge of her spiritual development to the time Juliana received the religious habit and thus became an Augustinian nun. She became so learned that she could read the words of the Church Fathers, of St Augustine and St Bernard in particular, in Latin. In addition to a keen intelligence, Juliana showed a special propensity for contemplation from the outset. She had a profound sense of Christ’s presence, which she experienced by living the Sacrament of the Eucharist especially intensely and by pausing frequently to meditate upon Jesus’ words: “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28, 20).

When Juliana was 16 she had her first vision which recurred subsequently several times during her Eucharistic adoration. Her vision presented the moon in its full splendour, crossed diametrically by a dark stripe. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth, the opaque line, on the other hand, represented the absence of a liturgical feast for whose institution Juliana was asked to plead effectively: namely, a feast in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to increase in faith, to advance in the practice of the virtues and to make reparation for offences to the Most Holy Sacrament.

Juliana, who in the meantime had become Prioress of the convent, kept this revelation that had filled her heart with joy a secret for about 20 years. She then confided it to two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who lived as a hermit, and Isabella, who had joined her at the Monastery of Mont-Cornillon. The three women established a sort of “spiritual alliance” for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament. They also chose to involve a highly regarded priest, John of Lausanne, who was a canon of the Church of St Martin in Liège. They asked him to consult theologians and clerics on what was important to them. Their affirmative response was encouraging.

What happened to Juliana of Cornillon occurs frequently in the lives of saints. To have confirmation that an inspiration comes from God it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer, to wait patiently, to seek friendship and exchanges with other good souls and to submit all things to the judgement of the Pastors of the Church. It was in fact Bishop Robert Torote, Liège who, after initial hesitation, accepted the proposal of Juliana and her companions and first introduced the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in his diocese. Later other bishops following his example instituted this Feast in the territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

However, to increase their faith the Lord often asks Saints to sustain trials. This also happened to Juliana who had to bear the harsh opposition of certain members of the clergy and even of the superior on whom her monastery depended. Of her own free will, therefore, Juliana left the Convent of Mont-Cornillon with several companions. For ten years — from 1248 to 1258 — she stayed as a guest at various monasteries of Cistercian sisters. She edified all with her humility, she had no words of criticism or reproach for her adversaries and continued zealously to spread Eucharistic worship. She died at Fosses-La-Ville, Belgium, in 1258. In the cell where she lay the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to her biographer’s account, Juliana died contemplating with a last effusion to love Jesus in the Eucharist whom she had always loved, honoured and adored.

Jacques Pantaléon of Troyes was also won over to the good cause of the Feast of Corpus Christi during his ministry as Archdeacon in Lièges. It was he who, having become Pope with the name of Urban IV in 1264, instituted the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost as a feast of precept for the universal Church. In the Bull of its institution, entitled Transiturus de hoc mundo, (11 Aug 1264), Pope Urban even referred discreetly to Juliana's mystical experiences, corroborating their authenticity. He wrote: “Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we deem it fitting that at least once a year it be celebrated with greater honour and a solemn commemoration. “Indeed we grasp the other things we commemorate with our spirit and our mind, but this does not mean that we obtain their real presence. On the contrary, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, even though in a different form, Jesus Christ is present with us in his own substance. While he was about to ascend into Heaven he said ‘And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28, 20)”.

The Pontiff made a point of setting an example by celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi in Orvieto, the town where he was then residing. Indeed, he ordered that the famous Corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle which had occurred in Bolsena the previous year, 1263, be kept in Orvieto Cathedral — where it still is today. While a priest was consecrating the bread and the wine he was overcome by strong doubts about the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. A few drops of blood began miraculously to ooze from the consecrated Host, thereby confirming what our faith professes. Urban IV asked one of the greatest theologians of history, St Thomas Aquinas — who at that time was accompanying the Pope and was in Orvieto — to compose the texts of the Liturgical Office for this great feast. They are masterpieces, still in use in the Church today, in which theology and poetry are fuse. These texts pluck at the heartstrings in an expression of praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the mind, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the Living and Real Presence of Jesus, of his Sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.

Although after the death of Urban IV the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi was limited to certain regions of France, Germany, Hungary and Northern Italy, it was another Pontiff, John XXII, who in 1317 re-established it for the universal Church. Since then the Feast experienced a wonderful development and is still deeply appreciated by the Christian people.

I would like to affirm with joy that today there is a “Eucharistic springtime” in the Church: how many people pause in silence before the tabernacle to engage in a loving conversation with Jesus! It is comforting to know that many groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, London. I pray that this Eucharistic “springtime” may spread increasingly in every parish and in particular in Belgium, St Juliana’s homeland. John Paul II said in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia: “In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned” (n. 10).

In remembering St Juliana of Cornillon let us also renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic Species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man.”

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Christ in the Eucharist in Holy Mass on Sunday is essential for the journey of faith, but let us also seek to pay frequent visits to the Lord present in the Tabernacle! In gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of God's love, we discover Jesus' Passion and Cross and likewise his Resurrection. It is precisely through our gazing in adoration that the Lord draws us towards him into his mystery in order to transform us as he transforms the bread and the wine.The Saints have always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. Let us repeat before the Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament the words of the Eucharistic hymn “Adoro te devote”: [Devoutly I adore Thee]: Make me believe ever more in You, “Draw me deeply into faith, / Into Your hope, into Your love. Thank you.”


"Je salue avec joie les pèlerins de langue française, particulièrement les prêtres du diocèse de Nevers, venus avec leur Évêque, Mgr Francis Deniau. Je vous souhaite à tous de trouver dans l’adoration eucharistique force, consolation et joie pour votre vie chrétienne et votre apostolat. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

I extend a warm welcome to the delegation from the International Catholic Migration Commission. I offer prayerful good wishes to the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld meeting in General Chapter. I also greet the priests from England and Wales celebrating their anniversaries of ordination. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrim groups from Israel, Nigeria, England and the United States of America, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

Von Herzen grüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache; besonders heiße ich heute die internationale Chorgemeinschaft der Franz-Liszt-Gesellschaft Eschweiler willkommen. Die Liebe der hl. Juliana zur Eucharistie hat uns das Fest Fronleichnam geschenkt. Auch wir wollen unseren Glauben an die Gegenwart Christi zum einen natürlich in der Mitfeier, aber gerade auch in der Anbetung der heiligen Eucharistie vollziehen, in der wir tiefer in das Geheimnis Christi hineinwachsen, ihn wirklich empfangen lernen, um so von ihm inwendig geformt zu werden. Die Begegnung mit Christus in der Anbetung soll uns allen Freude schenken und uns immer mehr in den Herrn hinein verwandeln. Gott segne euch alle.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los miembros de la Federación Mundial de las Obras Eucarísticas de la Iglesia, a los misioneros del Verbo Divino, así como a los demás grupos provenientes de España, El Salvador, Venezuela y otros países latinoamericanos. Siguiendo el ejemplo y enseñanza de Santa Juliana de Cornillon, os invito a ser fieles al encuentro con Cristo en la Misa dominical y a la adoración del Santísimo Sacramento, para experimentar el don de su amor. Muchas gracias.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, a minha saudação cordial a todos vós, em especial aos grupos brasileiros de Curitiba e de Propriá. O céu cubra de graças os passos da vossa vida e os preserve do pecado, para que os vossos corações possam domingo-a-domingo hospedar Jesus-Eucaristia no meio dos homens. Sobre vós, vossos familiares e comunidades eclesiais, desça a minha Bênção.

Witam polskich pielgrzymów. Pozdrawiam szczególnie organizatorów dorocznych europejskich spotkań młodzieży w Lednicy. Moi Drodzy, wracając do sakramentalnych korzeni naszego chrześcijaństwa – do chrztu, bierzmowania i Eucharystii – starajcie się pomagać młodym ludziom w zacieśnianiu serdecznej więzi z Chrystusem. Trwajcie razem na modlitwie, rozeznawajcie Jego wolę, z wiarą, nadzieją i miłością oddawajcie Mu swoją teraźniejszość i przyszłość. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!

Zo srdca vítam slovenských pútnikov, osobitne z Čadce, Žiliny a Piešťan.
Bratia a sestry, zajtra sa v pápežských bazilikách svätých apoštolov Petra a Pavla bude sláviť Výročie ich posviacky. Nech návšteva týchto chrámov zveľadí vašu lásku k Cirkvi, ktorá je postavená na apoštolskom základe.
Všetkých vás žehnám. Pochválený buď Ježiš Kristus!

Srdečně vítám poutníky z Jimramova!
Podle zbožné tradice je měsíc listopad zasvěcen modlitbám a obětem za ty, kteří už ukončili toto pozemské putování a spí spánkem pokoje. Vzpomínka na Vaše drahé zesnulé nechť Vás připraví na očekávaný Kristův příchod na konci věků.
K tomu Vám všem rád uděluji Apoštolské požehnání! Chvála Kristu!

Upućujem srdačan pozdrav svim hrvatskim hodočasnicima, a posebno članovima zajednice Krvi Kristove! Svojim životom i molitvama budite vjerni suradnici Krista Kralja čije kraljevstvo u vjeri i nadi iščekujemo. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i fedeli della Basilicata, qui convenuti con i loro Vescovi, i sacerdoti e le Autorità civili e militari, in occasione del trentesimo anniversario del devastante sisma che colpì la Regione. In quel drammatico evento, le cui ferite sono ancora profonde e vive nella mente e nel cuore di queste care popolazioni, da tante parti d’Italia sono giunti aiuti generosi. A livello locale, ciascuno si è impegnato, per parte sua, in quegli interventi necessari; vorrei sottolineare in particolare l’opera della Chiesa, che ha saputo offrire, oltre  al soccorso materiale, la luce della speranza del Cristo Risorto, in un momento di sconforto e di buio. Auspico che l’odierno incontro, anche nel ricordo della visita paterna compiuta in quei giorni dal Servo di Dio Giovanni Paolo II, ravvivi nel popolo cristiano il dono della fede e la gioia di condividerla nella grande famiglia della Chiesa.

Saluto i partecipanti al pellegrinaggio promosso dalle Suore Discepole di Gesù Eucaristico, in occasione del cinquantesimo anniversario della morte del loro Fondatore, il Servo di Dio Raffaello Delle Nocche, Vescovo di Tricarico, la cui vita è stata interamente guidata dall’incontro con Gesù Eucaristia, anima del suo fecondo apostolato. Questa provvida ricorrenza susciti il fervido desiderio di imitare il luminoso esempio di così zelante Pastore.

Saluto i fedeli di S. Miniato, accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Fausto Tardelli e qui convenuti in rappresentanza delle diverse realtà istituzionali, sociali ed ecclesiali della Città e della diocesi. Nel ringraziarli per la loro presenza, li esorto a diffondere in ogni ambiente quei valori umani e cristiani, che rendono feconda ogni iniziativa di bene.

Rivolgo, infine, il mio cordiale pensiero ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Voi, cari giovani, guardate a Gesù come al centro della vostra esistenza, per diventare costruttori di un mondo di autentica pace e di solidale speranza; a voi, cari malati, che state sperimentando la fatica e la sofferenza, auguro di sentire accanto a voi Cristo, e di cooperare con lui alla salvezza del mondo intero; esorto voi, cari sposi novelli, che da poco avete ricevuto nel sacramento del matrimonio l'effusione dello Spirito dell'amore, a trovare quotidianamente forza e coraggio in Dio, per vivere così in pienezza la vostra vocazione."


"In questi giorni la comunità internazionale segue con grande preoccupazione la difficile situazione dei cristiani in Pakistan, che spesso sono vittime di violenze o di discriminazione. In modo particolare oggi esprimo la mia vicinanza spirituale alla Sig.ra Asia Bibi e ai suoi familiari, mentre chiedo che, al più presto, le sia restituita la piena libertà. Inoltre prego per quanti si trovano in situazioni analoghe, affinché anche la loro dignità umana ed i loro diritti fondamentali siano pienamente rispettati."