Juliana of Cornillon and Thomas Ašuinas on the Eucharist: Politics, Liturgy, and Implementing Reform

Constant Mews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper reviews the evolution of the liturgical Office of the Feast of Corpus Christi, from the initial version prepared in Liege for Juliana of Cornillon in the 1240s and its final form, as composed by Thomas Aquinas in 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV. It situates Julian's vision of a new feast within a longer tradition of connecting the Eucharist to religious reform,
already evident in Liege in the 11th century. The paper considers the originality of Thomas Aquinas in composing many antiphons, responsories and hymns about the Eucharist, taking over an earliest set of chants from existing feasts. It also argues that the first three readings for the Feast constitute an authentic sermon of Thomas, which articulates an orthodox theology,
but does not use the word transubstantiation, arguing that the divine presence is accessed through faith rather than the senses. The slowness with which the new Feast was adopted prior to 1317 reflects the radical character of a liturgical reform that was originally inspired by the pious women of Liege
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-125
Number of pages23
JournalQuaestiones Medii Aevi Novae
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this