Sixth Congress

International Eucharistic Congress

Eucharistic Congresses are gatherings of clergy and laymen for adoring and evangelising the Holy Eucharist. The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is one of the principal dogmas of the Catholic Faith and is therefore of paramount importance as the most precious treasure that Christ has left to His Church as the centre of Catholic worship and as the source of Christian piety. The main advantages of these congresses have been in the concentration of the thoughts of the faithful upon the mystery of the altar, and in making known to them the means by which devotion towards the Holy Eucharist may be promoted and implanted in the hearts of the people. The promoters of Eucharistic congresses believe that increase in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be accredited to these congresses.

Early Eucharistic Congresses

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 Monmartre 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.

International Eucharistic Congresses

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.

31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin

In 1932 the 31st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin from June 22 to June 26, that year being the 1500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's arrival. Ireland was then home to 3,171,697 Catholics, and the chosen theme was "The Propagation of the Sainted Eucharist by Irish Missionaries." Two days before the Congress, Time Magazine noted the Congress' special theme:

Seven ocean liners moored in the port basins and along Sir John Rogerson's Quay. These were De Grasse, Doric, Dresden, Duchess of Bedford, Marnix van Sint Aldegonde, Rio Bravo and Sierra Cordoba. Five others, Antonio, Laconia, Lapland, Samaria and Saturnia anchored around Scotsmans Bay. The liners acted as floating hotels and could accommodate from 130 to 1,500 people on each.

The final public mass of the congress was held in Phoenix Park at 1pm on Sunday, and was celebrated by Michael Joseph Curley, Archibishop of Baltimore. Approximately 25% of the population of Ireland attended the mass and afterwards four processions left the Park to O'Connell Street where approximately 500,000 people gathered on O'Connell Bridge for the concluding blessing given by the Papal Legate, Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri. The Dundalk Democrat described the event:

The English Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton was also present, and observed:

21st century

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.

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 Synod of Bishops in October 2005. At the end of the Mass, the Pope announced the location of the next Congress.

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. The theme of the Congress was "The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World". 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, 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.



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