Corpus Christi Play of the Sacrament

The Corpus Christi Play of the Sacrament is a play or pageant preformed since Medieval times in public squares or churches to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. This feast is celebrated in the Catholic Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to pay homage to the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Contents • 1 Plays of the Sacrament • 2 Traditions of the Pageants • 3 Symbolic Christian Pictures in the Plays

Plays of the Sacrament

The Corpus Christi Plays of the Sacrament (Autos Sacramentales) were immensely popular in most European countries, particularly England, Germany, and Spain. These plays were preformed as early as the 1350’s and were preformed annually to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.

These plays not only served as ceremonies of worship, but also as methods for the Church to exert more authority and control over the populace by controlling labor and deciding the subject matter which the members of society would be exposed to during theatre.

Traditions of the Pageants

Many different traditions and practices evolved in the Plays of the Sacrament over time. While the Plays originated as solemn dramas, they eventually became grand affairs that would be considered parades by modern standards.

Elaborate costumes and pantomimes became tradition in the pageants, with portrayals of demons, angels, saints, sinners, and even virtuous pagans, all to celebrate feast day.

Ritual dances were often used to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist.

Symbolic Christian Pictures in the Plays

Many biblical symbols were used in the Corpus Christi pageants. Some of these included Old Testament figures such as Moses or David and Goliath, or New Testament scenes like Jesus’ Passion or images of the Last Supper.


Beckwith, Sarah: Signifying God. March 25, 2009. University of Chicago Press. March 30, 2008.

Catholic Culture: Liturgical Year: Customs for the Feast of Corpus Christi. 2008. Catholic March 30, 2008.

Peer Reviews

Great information, and right the the point. Try to stick with one tense throughout the article. Grade: A-

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The article has good information and is well-organized. I would suggest a section about the relevance these plays had to their communities, or literature where they are referenced, just to put the thing in some context. Well done, though! Grade: A-

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