The feast of Corpus Christi in Toledo is a Catholic Church’s feast day. It celebrates the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. It takes place sixty days after Easter or Resurrection Sunday, so it never has a fixed date, except for the fact that it is a Thursday in June.
Its origins trace back to the Middle Ages in the Belgian city of Liège. It was on September 8th, 1264 when Pope Urban IV created it using a papal bull. From that moment, its celebration has been gradually regulated with statutes.
At the beginning of the 14th century, John XXII added the practice of Eucharistic adoration. And in 1447, Nicholas V decided to organize a procession through the streets of Rome.
In Spain, one of the most popular and well-known celebrations of Corpus Christi takes place in the city of Toledo, whose cathedral has held the title of Primate Cathedral since 1088. 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.
It is so important, that it was declared Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional (international Tourist interest’s event) in 1980.
The celebration of Corpus Christi is the most important feast of the imperial city (a way of referring to Toledo in the Spanish context). The days before the Procesión del Santísimo (Procession of the Most Holy Corpus Christi) Toledo city starts to dress up.
The streets through which the procession will go are covered with marquees. Petals and aromatic herbs are scattered on the street. The balconies of the houses are covered with Spanish flags and confectioners.
The cathedral is also adorned. Its walls are covered with its collection of 17th century Flemish tapestries.
The day before Corpus Christi, the different confraternities and guilds organise several events. In the afternoon, there is a small parade of giants and bigheads with the Tarasca (mythological animal), accompanied by musicians.
And at eleven o’clock in the evening, a small rehearsal of the procession takes place. Here the pertiguero (a person holding a long pole) is in the spotlight. They, dressed in black, carry a rod as tall as the monstrance (the vessel where the Eucharistic host is kept during Eucharist). It ensures that the next day nothing hampers the movement and vision of the monstrance during the procession.
The procession is the main event of the Corpus Christi festival in Toledo. It is held under certain rules. First, the confraternities and guilds’ parade takes place. Then, the regular and secular clergy, the Cabildo Primado (catholic institution of Toledo) and the monstrance, done by Enrique de Arfe, march. The last ones are the Archbishop Primate with the people accompanying him, the military and the regional, provincial and local authorities.