October 05, 2005

History of Religious Drama

Dr. Jerz went over the origin of the Corpus Christi plays, but I was curious to find out more. Truthfully, there isn't a lot of information to be found. Many of the dates differ, but generally, the same list of facts can be found over and over. Here's what I discovered...


Corpus Christi is a religious holiday--instigated in 1311--to celebrate the doctrine of Transubstantiation, that is, the symbolism in the Mass of the Host which is taken in communion as the body of Christ--'corpus Christi'. The Corpus Christi Feast celebrates the possibility of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ at the Crucifixion made available to all through communion in the Christian Mass.

The plays were first staged as early as the 1300s and were then performed annually until the late 1500s. Most of the city was involved in the performance; there were multiple performances at a dozen or more locations.

The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, occurrs 60 days after Easter and thus falls in early summer, in June or July. The Feast was formally established in 1215, when the Church asserted that what occurred during the mass was the miracle of transubstantiation

The cycle of plays consisted of a series of plays on Christian history. They began with the Creation of the World, then moved onto episodes from the Old Testament, the birth of Christ The cycle consisted of a series of plays on Christian history, beginning with the Creation of the World, moving through episodes from the Old Testament, the birth, ministry and passion of Christ, His Resurrection, and ending with the Day of Judgment.

Here's a really good sight with complete descriptions and even some pictures: Medieval Writing

Posted by KatherineLambert at October 5, 2005 01:04 PM
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