Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Corpus Christi, Arundel, 2015

Posted on by royvickery |

044Corpus Christi is a Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) festival which was added to the Church’s calendar in 1264 as a special celebration of the eucharist.   It is held on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (eight weeks and four days after Easter).  In some Catholic countries elaborate carpets of flowers are prepared and after the celebration of mass ‘Christ’s Body (Corpus Christi) in the form of bread is carried in procession’ over this carpet ‘as a public witness to belief in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.’

The making of Corpus Christi floral carpets takes place in several Catholic and Anglo-Catholic churches in England, notably at the Catholic Cathedral in Arundel, West Sussex, where the custom was introduced by the 15th Duke of Norfolk who had seen a similar carpet in Italy.  The carpet which covers the floor of the aisle is prepared by local volunteers on the Tuesday before the festival, displayed to to public on Wednesday and again on Thursday until 5.30 p.m., when mass is held, after which the procession over the carpet takes place.  The carpet is ‘sacrificed to the one who created both flowers and people.  It acknowledges that he is Master and Lord of all creation.’

067A different design is used each year, that in 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the formation of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton and the recent installation of a new bishop, but the plants employed are the same:  chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum cvs) to provide large splashes of colour, carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) and gerberas (Gerbera cvs) to provide highlights, and cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) to provide a sombre background.  In addition to the carpet, the Cathedral’s altars and side chapels are abundantly decorated with floral arrangements.  The festival, particularly at busy times, such as Thursday morning, attracts a huge number of  visitors, mostly elderly.

Photographs taken Thursday 4 June 2015; quotations from leaflet provided for visitors to the Cathedral.


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