Corpus Christi

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Corpus Christi

, city, United States

Corpus Christi (kôrˈpəs krĭsˈtē), city (2020 pop. 317,863), seat of Nueces co., S Tex.; inc. 1852. It is a port on Corpus Christi Bay at the entrance to Nueces Bay (at the mouth of the Nueces River). The city is an oil and gas center, with export terminals, refineries, smelters, chemical works, and food-processing plants, as well as large seafood, fishing, and health-care industries. Sports-fishing facilities, beaches, and a mild climate make Corpus Christi a tourist and convention center, and it is the gateway to Padre Island National Seashore.

Tradition holds that the bay was named by the Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, who found it on Corpus Christi Day in 1519, but there is evidence that it was named instead by the first settlers, who arrived from the lower Rio Grande valley in the 1760s. In 1839, Col. H. L. Kinney founded a trading post, and traders and adventurers collected in a raffish colony on land claimed by both Texas and Mexico. The small port and terminus for overland wagon-train traffic boomed during the Mexican War. It was briefly captured by the U.S. navy in the Civil War. Corpus Christi developed industrially after the discovery of oil in the area and the completion (1926) of a deepwater channel past Mustang Island.

The city has many historical sites and is the seat of Texas A&M Univ.–Corpus Christi. A naval air station is on the southern shore of the bay. The city has suffered from occasional hurricanes; it is partially protected from flooding by a sea wall 12,300 ft (3,749 m) long, built between 1939 and 1941.

Corpus Christi

, in Christianity
Corpus Christi [Lat.,=body of Christ], feast of the Western Church, observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (or on the following Sunday). The feast, which celebrates the founding of the sacrament of the Eucharist, was established generally in 1264 with an office by St. Thomas Aquinas, which includes the splendid hymn Pange Lingua. In medieval times it was celebrated with pageants and the performance of miracle plays. The anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus is on Maundy Thursday.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Corpus Christi


a city in the southern USA, in Texas. A port on the Nueces River and the Gulf of Mexico. Population, 204,500 (1970; 284,500, including suburbs). Corpus Christi is a transportation and commercial center. Petroleum and natural gas reserves are tapped. The city has petroleum-refining, chemical, and food industries, and nonferrous metallurgy is developed (including an aluminum plant). There is a fishing industry. Corpus Christi is a seaside health resort.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Corpus Christi

Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
Also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body of Christ, the Day of Wreaths, and in France as the FÉte-Dieu, Corpus Christi is a Roman Catholic festival that has been celebrated in honor of the Eucharist since 1246. In commemoration of the Last Supper on the day before Jesus' crucifixion, worshippers receive Communion and, in some countries, the consecrated bread (or Host) is paraded through the streets, held by the priests in a monstrance. In Spain and Provence, these processions can be quite elaborate, with saints and characters from the Bible following a path decorated with wreaths and strewn with flowers.
In Portugal the feast is known as Día de Corpo de Deus and has been one of the major religious observances—both on the mainland and in the Azores—since medieval times. In the city of Ponta Delgada, on San Miguel in the Azores, the people make a flower-petal carpet almost three-quarters of a mile in length. Over this carpet passes a colorful procession of high-ranking clergy and red-robed priests, who are followed by a group of first communicants (those who are to receive communion for the first time)—the young boys wearing dark suits and scarlet capes and the girls wearing white dresses and veils. The climax of the ceremony comes when the bishop raises the silver monstrance and exposes the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ.
Portuguese National Tourist Office
590 Fifth Ave., 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10036
800-767-8842 or 212-354-4403; fax: 212-764-6137
BkDays-1864, vol. I, p. 686
BkFest-1937, pp. 124, 186, 303
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 156
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 253, 747, 749, 754, 787, 980, 1065
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 131
FestWestEur-1958, pp. 67, 98, 165, 198, 234
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 249
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 346
IntlThFolk-1979, pp. 275, 276
OxYear-1999, p. 633
RelHolCal-2004, p. 96
SaintFestCh-1904, p. 263

Celebrated in: Germany, Mexico, Switzerland, Venezuela

Corpus Christi (England)
Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
In England, before the Reformation, there was a famous procession in London on Corpus Christi Day. Beginning at Cheapside, a group of clergymen would move down the street chanting the paternoster, or Lord's Prayer. Over the years they perfected their timing so that just as they reached a certain corner, they sang, "Amen." To this day, there is a street corner in London known as the "Amen Corner," and the street leading to it is known as "Paternoster Row." The procession then turned the corner and proceeded down another street, still known as "Ave Maria Lane."
Although the feast of Corpus Christi is no longer observed in England, there was a time when the city guilds were involved in processions on this day and often performed what were known as Corpus Christi plays. These were pageants based on a scriptural subject or religious mystery, named after the pagiante, the large, partitioned cart in which they were presented.
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 69
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 133

Corpus Christi (Germany) (Fronleichnamsfest)
Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
Corpus Christi Day in Germany is celebrated with colorful processions where the Sacrament and other holy symbols are carried through villages. Small-town streets are decorated with flowers and greenery, and children dressed in white and wearing wreaths of flowers accompany women in regional costume and local clergy. Sometimes people display pictures of Christ and spread carpets in front of their houses in honor of the day.
The most picturesque of these processions take place in Bavaria, where Corpus Christi is a legal holiday. Some are held on lakes rather than in the streets, with flower-decked boats carrying members of the procession and worshippers across crystal clear waters. The processions at Lake Staffelsee and Lake Chiemsee in Upper Bavaria are among the most dramatic.
German National Tourist Office
122 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10168
800-651-7010 or 212-661-7200; fax: 212-661-7174
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 137
FestWestEur-1958, p. 67
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 346

Celebrated in: Germany

Corpus Christi (Mexico)
Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
A Roman Catholic holiday commemorating the Eucharist, Corpus Christi is often observed in Mexico with symbolic battles between the Moors (Muslims) and the Christians, particularly in the states of Puebla and Veracruz. Although costumes vary from one area to the next, the Moors can usually be distinguished by their turbans and crescents, while the Christians often wear either elaborate plumed helmets with visors or derby hats with pink masks. The battle between them may last four or five hours, at the end of which the Moors are defeated and their leader is symbolically buried.
Another spectacle that takes place on Corpus Christi is the Danza de los Voladores, or Flying Pole Dance, performed by the Totonac Indians in Papantla in Veracruz State. Four dancers dressed as birds stand on a small platform atop a 70-foot tree that has been stripped of its branches. By carefully winding ropes around the tree and around themselves, they are able to hurl themselves into space and circle the tree 13 times before landing on the ground feet first. The four dancers multiplied by the 13 circles equals 52, the number of years in the ancient Aztec calendar cycle. Other versions of the Flying Pole Dance are performed in Pahuatlan and Cuetzalan, Puebla State.
Religious processions are common in Mexico on Corpus Christi, as is the reposiar, a small shrine or altar set up along the procession's path, covered with a lace-trimmed altar cloth and decorated with candles, flowers, and garlands. As the priest makes his rounds of the village, he stops at each of these shrines and gives his benediction. Local tradespeople set up a "mock" market along the path of the procession at which they display miniature objects of their trade. A builder, for example, makes doll houses, while restaurant owners serve small portions of food in miniature dishes and weavers make tiny blankets. The inch-long breads made by the bakers are used by the children as money to buy other miniature wares.
See also Moors and Christians Fiesta
Mexico Tourism Board
21 E. 63rd St., Fl. 3
New York, NY 10021
800-446-3942 or 212-821-0314; fax: 212-821-0367
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 70
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 253, 749
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 275

Celebrated in: Mexico

Corpus Christi (Switzerland) (Fronleichnamsfest)
Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
Many of the ceremonies observed on Corpus Christi in Switzerland have come down from the Middle Ages. Although customs may vary from one canton to the next, this festival is almost always observed with elaborate processions of clergy in their best robes, people in picturesque regional costumes, and soldiers in historic uniforms. The priest who leads the procession often walks on a carpet of flowers.
In Fribourg, people decorate their houses with Gobelins (tapestries) as the bishop of Fribourg carries the Holy Sacrament through the streets. In the cantons of Appenzell, the processions include women in native costume, Capuchin monks in their robes, and young girls with white dresses and wreaths of flowers in their hair.
It is customary to throw the church doors open on Corpus Christi and to decorate the altar and aisles with garlands and greens. Outdoor village altars with flowers and candles are often erected in secluded places.
Switzerland Tourism
608 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10020
877-794-8037 or 212-757-5944; fax: 212-262-6116
FestWestEur-1958, p. 234

Celebrated in: Switzerland

Corpus Christi (Venezuela)
Between May 21 and June 24; Thursday after Trinity Sunday
The Christian feast of Corpus Christi was established in Spanish America by royal decree in the latter part of the 16th century. The celebration was supposed to resemble that held in Spain, with performances and parades of people dressed up as dragons, devils, and giants. Although the dragons and giants have disappeared over the years, the Corpus Christi devils remain an important part of the festival, particularly in San Francisco de Yare in Venezuela.
The devil dancers are welcomed with a blast of fireworks at nine o'clock on the morning of the feast. Spectators gather in the Plaza Bolívar, waiting as the drumbeats become increasingly louder. Then more than 1,000 devils appear, disguised in red garments and horrible-looking masks from which protrude both the horn and the snout of an animal, usually an ox or a pig. Each dancer holds one or more maracas in his right hand and a thin rod from which dangles a small sack in his left. Cowbells and rattles are tied to each dancer's waist, and the noise they make as they leap around and shake the maracas can be deafening.
The appearance of the Sacred Host in the doorway of the church is a sign that the procession around the plaza is about to begin. The devils dance about in a frenzy, while the man at the head of the procession acts as if he is beating them with the whip he carries. When the Sacred Host is taken back to its sanctuary, the devils start crying and attempt to enter the church, but they are shut out. They become increasingly frantic, until finally they fall on their knees and toss their horned masks on the ground as a gesture admitting their defeat.
After the dance is over, the devils go to their leader's house, where everyone dances the bamba, a traditional dance of Spanish origin.
Venezuelan Tourism Department
7 E. 51st St.
New York, NY 10022
212-826-1660; fax: 212-644-7471
FiestaTime-1965, p. 105

Celebrated in: Venezuela

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.

Corpus Christi

a port in S Texas, on Corpus Christi Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. Pop.: 279 208 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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