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428-year-old Feast of Corpus Christi sweeps through the historic stone streets of Toledo, Spain

After weeks of preparation, the Catholic Church celebrated its most important festival, Corpus Christi, in the famous and historic city of Toledo, Spain.

  • 8 months ago
  • June 22, 2023
4 min read
Numerous festivities are organized by the various confraternities and guilds the day before Corpus Christi. There is a modest parade of giants and bigheads in the afternoon that includes the Tarasca, a mythical beast, and is accompanied by musicians. Numerous festivities are organized by the various confraternities and guilds the day before Corpus Christi. There is a modest parade of giants and bigheads in the afternoon that includes the Tarasca, a mythical beast, and is accompanied by musicians. | Photo courtesy of Xochilth Rodríguez
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Today’s photo gallery comes from Xochilth Rodriguez of Spain. It features photos from what is considered the most popular and well known Corpus Christi festivities in all of Spain. According to Fascinating Spain, “The oldest evidence of this Corpus Christi festival in the city of Toledo dates back to the 14th century. However, references to the procession can be traced back to 1595.”

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A procession swept through the streets of Toledo, Spain in June, honoring the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi. The first known evidence of the celebration in Toledo dates back to 1595, some 428 years ago. In the country of Spain, Toledo is considered the most representative of the Spanish culture, making it a major tourist destination. It features a historic city center that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The processions begins at the famous Primatial Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. According to Spanish Fiestas, the famous monstrance or vessel known as the Custodia de Enrique de Arfe is the festival’s focal point. It dates back to 1515 and is made of gold, silver, pearls, and other gems. It weighs over 350 pounds.

Many additional small events take place in the surrounding areas. For five weeks prior to the festival, citizens decorate the streets, awnings, and balconies. They cover the ground in flower petals and herbs, sending an incredible aroma through the air.

Pope Urban IV established Corpus Christi on September 8, 1264, using a papal decree

The festival’s beginnings trace back to the Middle Ages in the city of Liège, Belgium. The Spanish festival honors the history of this important Catholic holiday.

Flowers, lanterns, themed tapestries, and candles adorn the route and the city center. Unique and elaborate floats create a spectacle of awe for the local residents and the international tourists who travel to see this unique and historic parade.

The scent of thyme and rosemary floats through the air along the entire path. 

Cofradías, or brotherhoods, play a key role in the festival. Music and bands play throughout the city, and many children celebrate their First Communion this day, joining in on the procession.

Pageboys, acolytes, drummers, and military authorities make up a portion of the participants, all following the Custodia on its journey.

For hundreds of years, the Corpus Christi celebration has started on the Thursday following the eighth Sunday after Easter Sunday. Today that tradition continues.

All photos are courtesy of Xochilth Rodriguez.

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