Eucharistic Congress

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An aerial view of City Park Stadium, in New Orleans, filled with worshippers at the National Eucharistic Congress of 1938

In the Roman 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, adoration of the Eucharist (Blessed Sacrament), and other devotional ceremonies held over several days. Congresses may both refer to National (varies by country) and International Eucharistic Congresses.

The most recent International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin, Ireland in 2012 and the next congress will be held in Cebu, the Philippines in 2016.[1]

19th and 20th century[edit]

The 21st International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1910

The first International Eucharistic Congress owed its inspiration to Bishop Gaston de Ségur, and was held at Lille, France, 21 June 1881. The idea at first was merely local and met with few adherents, but it grew from year to year with an ever-increasing importance. The sixth congress met in Paris, 2–6 July 1888, and the great memorial church of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre was the centre of the proceedings. Antwerp entertained the next congress, 15–21 August 1890; an immense altar of repose was erected in the Place de Meir, and an estimated 150,000 persons were gathered about it when Cardinal Goossens, Archbishop of Mechlin, 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.

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 definitely international, and at the invitation of Archbishop Bourne of Westminster it was decided to hold the nineteenth congress 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, and Bishop Thomas 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 19th International Eucharistic Congress was held in London in 1908.

The 20th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Cologne in 1909.

The 21st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Montreal in 1910.

The 22nd International Eucharistic Congress was held in Madrid in 1911.

The 23rd International Eucharistic Congress was held in Vienna in September 1912.[2]

The 24th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Malta in April 1913.

The 25th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Lourdes, 22–25 July 1914.

The 26th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Rome, 24–29 May 1922.

The 27th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Amsterdam, 22–27 June 1924.

28th International Eucharistic Congress, Chicago[edit]

In 1926 the 28th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Chicago from June 20–24. Cardinal Bonzano was the papal legate and the host was George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago. Mass for a crowd estimated at 500,000 was held at the recently completed Soldier Field Stadium. Closing mass at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary had nearly a million worshippers.

29th International Eucharistic Congress, Sydney[edit]

In 1928 the 29th Congress was held in Sydney from 6–9 September. Crowds of half a million witnessed the procession of the Eucharist, headed by the papal legate Cardinal Cerretti.[3]

The 30th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Carthage, Tunisia, 7–11 May 1930.

31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin[edit]

In 1932, the 31st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin, Ireland from 22–26 June, that year being the 1,500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's arrival in Ireland. There were 3,171,697 Catholics in Ireland in 1932, and the Congress theme was "The Propagation of the Sainted Eucharist by Irish Missionaries."[4]

32nd International Eucharistic Congress, Buenos Aires[edit]

The 32nd International Eucharistic Congress was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October 1934 with Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later was named Pope Pius XII, serving as papal legate to the congress.[5]

More than one million people gathered in Palmero Park, and nearby, to hear, over loudspeakers, a greeting and benediction from the pope, which was broadcast from Vatican City radio. A Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Pacelli, who, at the close of the congress, pronounced the Apostolic blessing on participants.[6]

33rd International Eucharistic Congress, Manila[edit]

The 33rd International Eucharistic Congress was held in Manila, Philippines, from 3 to 7 February 1937 during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. It was the first congress to be held in Asia.

The congress was attended by approximately one and a half million people from all over the world, and included a religious procession of 600,000 people. Pontifical masses were held in Rizal Park, with hundreds of thousands of people attending.[7]

34th International Eucharistic Congress, Budapest[edit]

The 34th Eucharistic congress was held in Budapest, Hungary in May 1938. Eugenio Pacelli, who later was named Pope Pius XII, served as papal legate to the congress.[8]

Over 100,000 people from all over the world attended the congress, including 15 cardinals and 330 bishops. The theme for the congress was “Eucharist the Bond of Love.”[9]

35th International Eucharistic Congress, Barcelona[edit]

The 35th International Eucharistic Congress was held from May 27 to June 1, 1952, in Barcelona, Spain. It was the first Eucharistic congress to be held since the ending of World War II. Its overriding theme was “Peace.”

The congress was attended by hundreds of Catholic bishops and other church officials, including Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, and Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Chicago. Because of the "Cold War," attendance by Catholics from eastern European countries under communist control was limited.[10]

36th International Eucharistic Congress, Rio de Janeiro[edit]

The 36th Eucharistic Congress was held from July 17 to July 24, 1955, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The theme of the congress was "Christ the Redeemer and His Eucharistic Kingdom."[11]

37th International Eucharistic Congress, Munich[edit]

The 37th International Eucharistic Congress was held from July 31 to August 7, 1960 in Munich, West Germany, a site chosen by Pope Pius XII who had previously served there as a papal nuncio. The congress was 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.[12]

The congress laid a foundation stone for a “church of atonement” to be built near the Dachau concentration camp of World War II. At the close of the congress, a Statio Orbis Mass was celebrated on the Theresienwiese, a large square in Munich.[13]

38th International Eucharistic Congress, Mumbai[edit]

The 38th Eucharistic Congress was held in Mumbai (Bombay) India in 1964; for the first time in its history, 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 prersence 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.[14]

39th International Eucharistic Congress, Bogotá[edit]

The 39th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1968. Its theme was "The Eucharist and the Bond of Love." Attending the congress were Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll of Miami, and Archbishop John Francis Dearden of Detroit.[15]

40th International Eucharistic Congress, Melbourne[edit]

The 40th Eucharistic Congress was held in Melbourne, Australia, from 18 to 25 February 1973, with its theme "Love one another as I have loved you."[16]

41st International Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia[edit]

In 1976 the 41st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia in August, that year being the 200th anniversary of independence for the United States. The theme was Jesus, the bread of life. John Cardinal Krol was Philadelphia's Archbishop. The Mass held at Municipal (J.F. Kennedy) Stadium was attended by U.S. president Gerald R. Ford.

42nd International Eucharistic Congress, Lourdes[edit]

The 42nd Congress was held at Lourdes, France, from 16 to 23 July 1981. Its theme was "Hungers of the Human Family. This is the third time that the congress was held at Lourdes. Previously it had been held there in 1899 and 1914."[17]

43rd International Eucharistic Congress, Nairobi[edit]

The 43rd Congress was held at Nairobi, Kenya, from 11 to 18 August 1985. It was attended by Pope John Paul II and its theme was "The Eucharist and the Christian Family."[18]

44th International Eucharistic Congress, Seoul[edit]

The 44th international congress was held in Seoul, South Korea, from 4 to 8 October 1989. Its theme was "Christ is our Peace." Attending the Congress were Cardinal Sue-Hwan Stephen Kim and Pope John Paul ll. Specially, Pope held the Solemn Mass entirely in Korean on the concluding day. The number of average attendee, excluding the parties of the Congress, was recorded to be 1 million.

Its two principal objectives were:

  • promoting a deeper understanding of the eucharist and
  • living the eucharistic faith in the reality of our world.[19]

45th International Eucharistic Congress, Seville[edit]

The 45th congress was held in Sevilla, Spain, from 7 to 13 June 1993.

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."[20]

46th International Eucharistic Congress, Wrocław[edit]

The 46th congress was held at Wrocław, Poland, from May 25 to June 1, 1997.[21]

The theme of this congress was "Freedom as Reflected in the Eucharist." The congress addressed the distinction between "freedom" and "liberty."[22]

21st century[edit]

47th International Eucharistic Congress, Rome[edit]

The 47th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Rome from 18–25 June 2000. It was the third to be celebrated in Rome, and the first of its kind to be celebrated in a Jubilee Year.

48th International Eucharistic Congress, Guadalajara[edit]

The 48th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico from 10 to 17 October 2004. 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 between that Mass, and a simultaneous Mass celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in Rome 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. At the end of the Mass, the Pope announced the location of the next Congress.

49th International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec City[edit]

In May 2007, a Youth Summit was held at the University of Laval in preparation for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress. This took place in Quebec City, 15–22 June 2008, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the city's founding.[23] The theme of the Congress was "The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World".[23] The closing celebration took place on the Plains of Abraham, attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims.[24] 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.[24] The Pope announced the next Congress was to take place in Dublin, in 2012:

Dear Friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a close I invite you to join me in praying for the Success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin! I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.[24]

50th International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin[edit]

The 50th International Eucharistic Congress took place in Dublin, Ireland from 10–17 June 2012. It coincided with the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council. The theme of the Congress, drawn from Lumen gentium, 7 was The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another. The Congress was more than just an event in 2012. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Fr. Kevin Doran, Secretary General of the Congress explained that people were invited to take a journey of pastoral preparation in advance of the Congress.[25] Most Congress activities in 2012 took place at the Royal Dublin Society. The Statio Orbis (closing ceremony) took place at the Croke Park sports stadium. In addition to the daily celebration of the Eucharist, there were upwards of thirty workshops and presentations each day on various themes associated with the Eucharist, (prayer, social justice, family, art, community, disability and inclusion) and such was the demand that some of these had to be repeated, or played on large outdoor screens. There were exhibitions covering a wide range of activities and services which helped to demonstrate the life of the Church in all its diversity and richness. The past fifteen years have seen the Church struggling to face the reality of failure to respond appropriately to the reality of child abuse by clergy and religious. The blessing of a Healing Stone by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and a personal meeting between the Papal Legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and survivors, were among a number of ways in which this aspect of the Church's call to conversion and healing were reflected during the Congress. The Canadian Catholic television network Salt and Light has a full archive of the events of the Congress [26]

The Pope delivered a pre-recorded address from the Vatican to the closing ceremony of the 50th Congress on 17 June. [27][28]

51st International Eucharistic Congress, Cebu[edit]

During Pope Benedict XVI's pontifical address to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Croke Park, Ireland, the pontiff announced that Cebu, Philippines would host the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. CBCP confirmed that Pope Francis will skip the said event since he visited the country recently. CBCP President, Archbishop Socrates Villegas said "“If we insist, we would appear to be selfish because he would have lesser time to visit other countries. It would be a waste of opportunity because people from other countries would not be able to see him." Instead, the Pope appointed the first Cardinal of Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo as the Papal Legate at the same time release an invitation for all last November 09, 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Konrath, Stefan (2008). Der Blechhaufen von Wien – eine Studie über die wirtschaftliche und kulturhistorische Bedeutung der Wiener Rotunde (PDF) (Thesis) (in German). University of Vienna. pp. 124–125. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "In Dublin". Time Magazine. 1932-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  5. ^ Pacelli:
  6. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald, October 16j, 1934
  7. ^ Cebu city:
  8. ^ Pacelli
  9. ^ History of the Eucharistic Congresses
  10. ^,441528
  11. ^,6224255
  12. ^,7139053
  13. ^,1720374
  14. ^ Time magazine,9171,830910,00.html
  15. ^ Pope Paul's Visit to Bogota
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "Origins of the 2008 IEC". Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  24. ^ a b c "Pope: "Due Honour to Eucharistic Rite"- Dublin to Host Congress 2012". Vatican Radio. 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  25. ^ Eucharistic Congress exactly what Irish Church needs . Vatican Radio Interview with Fr. Kevin Doran, Secretary General of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. (Broadcast 2010-10-22; Retrieved 2010-12-31)
  26. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Full text: Pope's address to Congress". Irish Times. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "Final day of Eucharistic Congress gets underway". RTE News. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 

External links[edit]