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In the Catholic Church, a eucharistic congress is a gathering of clergy, religious, and laity to bear witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, which is an important Roman Catholic doctrine. Congresses bring together people from a wide area, and typically involve large open-air Masses, Eucharistic adoration (Blessed Sacrament), and other devotional ceremonies held over several days. Congresses may both refer to National (varies by country) and International Eucharistic Congresses.
Paschal Baylon is considered the patron saint of such eucharistic congresses.
The first International Eucharistic Congress owed its inspiration to Bishop Gaston de Ségur, and was held at Lille, France, on June 21, 1881. The initial inspiration behind the idea came from the laywoman Marie-Marthe-Baptistine Tamisier (1834-1910) who spent a decade lobbying clergy. The sixth congress met in Paris in 1888, and the great memorial Church of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre was the center of the proceedings. Antwerp hosted the next congress in 1890, at which an immense altar of repose was erected in the Place de Meir, and an estimated 150,000 persons gathered around it when Cardinal Goossens, Archbishop of Mechelen, gave the solemn benediction. Bishop Doutreloux of Liège was then president of the Permanent Committee for the Organization of Eucharistic Congresses, the body which has charge of the details of these meetings. Of special importance also was the eighth congress, held in Jerusalem in 1893, as it was the first congress held outside Europe.
In 1907, the congress was held in Metz, Lorraine, and the German government suspended the law of 1870 (which forbade processions) in order that the usual solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament might be held. Each year the congress had become more and more international in nature, and at the invitation of Archbishop Bourne of Westminster the nineteenth congress was held in London, the first among English-speaking members of the Church. The presidents of the Permanent Committee of the International Eucharistic Congresses, under whose direction all this progress was made, were:
- Bishop Gaston de Ségur of Lille; Archbishop de La Bouillerie, titular of Perga and coadjutor of Bordeaux;
- Archbishop Duquesnay of Cambrai;
- Cardinal Mermillod, Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva;
- Bishop Doutreloux of Liège;
- Bishop Thomas Louis Heylen of Namur, Belgium.
After each congress this committee prepared and published a volume giving a report of all the papers read and the discussions on them in the various sections of the meeting, the sermons preached, the addresses made at the public meetings, and the details of all that transpired.
The International Eucharistic Congresses
|1st International Eucharistic Congress||June 1881||Lille||The Eucharist Saves the World|
|2nd International Eucharistic Congress||September 1882||Avignon|
|3rd International Eucharistic Congress||June 1883||Liège|
|4th International Eucharistic Congress||September 1885||Fribourg|
|5th International Eucharistic Congress||June 1887||Toulouse|
|6th International Eucharistic Congress||July 1888||Paris|
|7th International Eucharistic Congress||August 1890||Antwerp|
|8th International Eucharistic Congress||May 1893||Jerusalem||First congress held outside Europe.|
|9th International Eucharistic Congress||July 1894||Reims|
|10th International Eucharistic Congress||September 1897||Paray-le-Monial|
|11th International Eucharistic Congress||July 1898||Brussels|
|12th International Eucharistic Congress||August 1899||Lourdes, France|
|13th International Eucharistic Congress||September 1901||Angers|
|14th International Eucharistic Congress||September 1902||Namur|
|15th International Eucharistic Congress||June 1904||Angoulême|
|16th International Eucharistic Congress||June 1905||Rome|
|17th International Eucharistic Congress||August 1906||Tournai|
|18th International Eucharistic Congress||August 1907||Metz|
|19th International Eucharistic Congress||September 1908||London|
|20th International Eucharistic Congress||August 1909||Cologne|
|21st International Eucharistic Congress||September 7–11, 1910||Montreal||First Congress held in North America or the Western Hemisphere.|
|22nd International Eucharistic Congress||July 1911||Madrid|
|23rd International Eucharistic Congress||September 12–15, 1912||Vienna|
|24th International Eucharistic Congress||April 23–27, 1913||Malta|
|25th International Eucharistic Congress||July 22–25, 1914||Lourdes||The Eucharist and the Social Reign of Jesus Christ||Cardinal G. Pignatelli of Belmonte was the papal legate.|
|26th International Eucharistic Congress||May 24–29, 1922||Rome||The Peaceful Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist||Pope Pius XI officiated the Mass at the St. Peter's Square; first congress after World War I.|
|27th International Eucharistic Congress||June 22–27, 1924||Amsterdam||The Eucharist and Holland||Cardinal Van Rossum was the papal legate.|
|28th International Eucharistic Congress||June 20–24, 1926||Chicago||First congress held in the United States. Cardinal Bonzano was the papal legate; the host was Cardinal George Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago. A crowd estimated at 500,000 attended Mass at the Soldier Field. Closing mass at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary had almost one million worshipers.|
|29th International Eucharistic Congress||September 6–9, 1928||Sydney||It was the first congress in Australia. The procession of the Eucharist, headed by the papal legate Cardinal Cerretti, was witnessed by 500,000.|
|30th International Eucharistic Congress||May 7–11, 1930||Carthage, Tunisia||The Eucharist is Africa's testimony||First congress held in Africa.|
|31st International Eucharistic Congress||June 22–26, 1932||Dublin, Ireland||The Propagation of the Sainted Eucharist by Irish Missionaries||The year 1932 was the 1500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's arrival in Ireland. The Catholic population of Ireland in 1932 was 3,171,697 Catholics.|
|32nd International Eucharistic Congress||October 10–14, 1934||Buenos Aires, Argentina||The first congress in South America, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (later named Pope Pius XII) served as papal legate. Over one million people gathered in and around Palmero Park to hear a greeting and benediction from the pope, broadcast from Vatican City radio. A Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Pacelli, who pronounced the Apostolic blessing on participants.|
|33rd International Eucharistic Congress||February 3–7, 1937||Manila, Philippines||The first congress in Asia and the first congress held in the Philippines, it was held during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, and was attended by approximately 1.5 million people from around the world. Pontifical Masses were held in Rizal Park, with hundreds of thousands of people attending each one.|
|34th International Eucharistic Congress||May 25–30, 1938||Budapest||Eucharist, the Bond of Love||Cardinal Pacelli—later was named Pope Pius XII—served as papal legate to the congress, as he had 4 years earlier. Over 100,000 people from all over the world attended the congress, including 15 cardinals and 330 bishops.|
|35th International Eucharistic Congress||May 27-June 1, 1952||Barcelona||Peace||The first Eucharistic congress since the end of World War II. It was attended by hundreds of Catholic bishops and other church officials, including Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, and Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Chicago. However, because of the Cold War, attendance by Catholics from eastern European countries under communist control was limited.|
|36th International Eucharistic Congress||July 17–24, 1955||Rio de Janeiro||Christ the Redeemer and His Eucharistic Kingdom|
|37th International Eucharistic Congress||July 31-August 7, 1960||Munich, West Germany||The site was chosen by Pope Pius XII who had previously served there as a papal nuncio. Attended by approximately 430 bishops and 28 cardinals, including Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, and Cardinal Albert Gregory Meyer of Chicago, the congress laid a foundation stone for a "church of atonement" to be built near the Dachau concentration camp. At the close of the congress, a Statio Orbis Mass was celebrated on the Theresienwiese, a large square in Munich.|
|38th International Eucharistic Congress||November 12–15, 1964||Bombay, India||For the first time, the congress took place in a country that did not have a significant Catholic population. Its objective was disseminating the continuing Catholic belief that the "real presence of Christ was in the Eucharist." Attending the congress were Pope Paul VI, a large number of cardinals, and an estimated 20,000 foreign visitors.|
|39th International Eucharistic Congress||August 18–25, 1968||Bogotá||The Eucharist and the Bond of Love||Attending the congress were Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Coleman Carroll of Miami, and Archbishop John Francis Dearden of Detroit.|
|40th International Eucharistic Congress||February 18–25, 1973||Melbourne||Love one another as I have loved you|
|41st International Eucharistic Congress||August 1–8, 1976||Philadelphia||Jesus, the bread of life||The congress coincided with the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States from Great Britain. The Mass held at Municipal Stadium was attended by U.S. president Gerald R. Ford.|
|42nd International Eucharistic Congress||July 16–23, 1981||Lourdes||Hungers of the Human Family||This was the third time the congress was held at Lourdes.|
|43rd International Eucharistic Congress||August 11–18, 1985||Nairobi||The Eucharist and the Christian Family||Attended by Pope John Paul II.|
|44th International Eucharistic Congress||October 4–8, 1989||Seoul||Christ is our Peace||As he did four years prior, Pope John Paul II attended the congress, holding the Solemn Mass entirely in Korean on the final day. The two principal objectives were: promoting a deeper understanding of the Eucharist; and living the eucharistic faith in the reality of our world. Attendance was reported to be around 1 million.|
|45th International Eucharistic Congress||June 7–13, 1993||Seville, Spain||The first post-Cold War congress, Pope John Paul II addressed the congress and declared, "I hope the fruit of this congress results in the establishment of perpetual Eucharistic adoration in all parishes and Christian communities throughout the world."|
|46th International Eucharistic Congress||May 25-June 1, 1997||Wrocław, Poland||Freedom as Reflected in the Eucharist||Attended by Pope John Paul II. The congress addressed the distinction between "freedom" and "liberty."|
|47th International Eucharistic Congress||June 18–25, 2000||Rome||The third to be celebrated in Rome, the congress was the first of its kind to be celebrated in a Jubilee Year.|
|48th International Eucharistic Congress||October 10–17, 2004||Guadalajara, Mexico||Pope John Paul II, being too ill to attend, named Cardinal Josef Tomko as Papal Legate. The Congress ended with a celebration of the Mass in the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, with a live link up to a simultaneous Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, celebrated in the presence of Pope John Paul II. These simultaneous Masses marked the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist which ran from the International Eucharistic Congress to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2005.|
|49th International Eucharistic Congress||June 15–22, 2008||Quebec City||The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World||This congress coincided with the 400th anniversary of the city's founding. The closing celebration took place on the Plains of Abraham, attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims. Pope Benedict XVI's message was broadcast live, in both French and English, from the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, via giant screens set up on the meadow. The Pope announced the next Congress was to take place in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012.|
|50th International Eucharistic Congress||June 10–17, 2012||Dublin||The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another (drawn from Lumen gentium)||The congress coincided with the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council. In addition to the daily celebration of the Eucharist, there were over thirty workshops and presentations daily on various themes associated with the Eucharist. For many years, the Church has failed to respond appropriately to child abuse by clergy. The blessing of a Healing Stone by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, as well as a personal meeting between the Papal Legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and survivors of clergy sexual abuse, were among the ways in which the issue was addressed. The Pope delivered a pre-recorded address to the closing ceremony on June 17.|
|51st International Eucharistic Congress||January 24–31, 2016||Cebu City, Philippines||Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory (From the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians)||The second time in the Philippines, including Manila in 1937. Pope Francis appointed the first Cardinal of Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo as the Papal Legate.|
|52nd International Eucharistic Congress||September 5–12, 2021||Budapest, Hungary||This is the second time Hungary will be hosting after 1938.|
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