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Catholic Liturgies of the Eucharist in the Time of Reform

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Chapter Summary

Eucharistic devotion was the subject of a remarkable liturgical creativity at the end of the Middle Ages, and during the Counter Reformation. If Corpus Christi had been inscribed into the liturgical calendar and the perpetual adoration tended to reorganize Catholic time around the sacrament of the altar, two other forms of eucharistic devotion first appeared as exceptional and became ordinary: the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the prayers of the Forty Hours' Devotion. The fecundity of the liturgy and of the paraliturgy of the Eucharist between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries is largely in line with the reaffirmation of the doctrine of the real presence, which became an identifying mark of Catholicism. This liturgical richness also reflects the suspicions and the criticisms of certain clergy, who saw in innovations the risk of desacralization. Despite potential conflict, the Eucharist, the Corpus Christi, was at the heart of Catholic practices.

Keywords: catholic liturgies; Corpus Christi; eucharist; Forty Hours' Devotion



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