By Anne Leader

Today (26 May 2016) is the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ, or Corpus Domini), celebrated in the Western Church since 1246 on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. This Latin Rite celebrates the Eucharist and the dogma of Transubstantiation, which states that the Eucharist contains the real presence of Jesus through his body and blood that are transubstantiated from bread and wine. Many Italian artists have portrayed images related to the Eucharist, including its institution by Jesus with his Apostles, Christ as Man of Sorrows, and images of chalice and monstrance. Focus on the body and blood of Christ became especially important to Catholic patrons after challenges brought on by the Protestant Reformation, which challenged the doctrine of Transubstantiation, claiming that Communion was symbolic and not physical. Thus, in Catholic contexts, images of the body of Christ became especially popular devotional images that stated clearly belief in the real presence of Christ during Mass.

Lorenzo Monaco, Christ as the Man of Sorrows, 1415-17. Tempera on panel, 62 x 33 cm. Private collection.

Antonio Diziani, Feast of Corpus Christi Procession, Piazza di San Marco, 1758-63. Oil on canvas, 119 x 187 cm. Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Raphael, Disputation of the Holy Sacrament (La Disputà), 1510-11. Fresco, width at the base: 770 cm. Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

Fra Angelico, Institution of the Eucharist, 1441-42. Fresco, 186 x 234 cm. Convento di San Marco (Cell 35), Florence

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1498. Mixed technique, 460 x 880 cm. Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Tintoretto, The Last Supper, 1592-94. Oil on canvas, 365 x 568 cm. San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Il Sodoma, Man of Sorrows, 1505-08. Fresco. Abbazia, Monteoliveto Maggiore

Federico Barocci, The Institution of the Eucharist, 1608. Oil on canvas, 290 x 177 cm. Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

Caravaggio, The Entombment, 1602-03. Oil on canvas, 300 x 203 cm. Pinacoteca, Vatican

Alessandro Allori, The Body of Christ with Two Angels. c. 1600. Oil on copper, 45 x 39 cm. Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

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