The foundation of Corpus Christi College and St. Bene’t’s Church
Corpus Christi College was founded in 1352 by the Guild of Corpus Christi and the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a motive for understanding God’s purpose and studying philosophical questions, which eventually sprouted inspiration to explore a suite of academic disciplines to which we integrate today. At the time of founding, there was no chapel and members of the college worshipped in St Bene’t’s Church next door which is still an active church physically attached to Old Court and is estimated to have been a place of worship and prayer for almost 1000 years. Old Court was built within 25 years following 1352 and St Bene’t’s Church is estimated to have been built around the year 1020. St Bene’t’s Church as well as the parish church in Grantchester and in Landbeach, are livings of Corpus Christi College. Eventually a college chapel was formed courtesy of Thomas Cosyn, which was attached to St Bene’t’s and connected to the college Old Court by a bridge known as the Gallery. This chapel needed to be extended into the Gallery in 1569 to increase chapel space and was later converted into a fellow’s room.
The expansion of the College and the new Chapel
A new chapel physically separated from St Bene’t’s was completed in 1662 but was subsequently replaced with a chapel building within the newly built New Court completed in 1827. The new chapel in New Court required an extension in 1870 to cope with the rising number of college members. By God’s grace, this is our chapel building which remains today in function and beauty, standing prominently at the east side of New Court holding regular services each week during term time.
Asking and exploring the deepest questions of life
This deep rooted history echoes in the heart of the college body, named after the Body of Christ. Though many of us may not think overly deeply on divine matters amongst the busyness of life, we are encouraged in college to consider such profound life questions for ourselves and to take time in quietness and reflection to contemplate what we truly believe. What better place could there be for such contemplation other than the tranquil college gardens surrounding Leckhampton House? As college members, regardless of our background or belief, we are warmly welcomed to attend services held regularly in our college chapel. The chapel is also freely open for us all out with service times as a place of private prayer or simply a time of quietness and reflection. For those wishing to engage in more depth of scriptural understanding, various Bible studies are run each week in different locations in Cambridge by the Christian Graduate Society (CGS). The CGS website also provides some useful recommendations of local community churches.
Daily dining in college has been part of college life since its founding. We say grace at Formal Hall to give thanks for our food. At our sit-down dinners in Leckhampton House we pause for a moment of quietness to give thanks. The following grace is said at Formal Hall:
Benedic, Domine, nobis et donis tuis, quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi; et concede ut, iis salubriter nutriti, tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus; per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Bless, O Lord, us and thy gifts, which we are about to take of thy generosity; and grant that we, healthily nourished by them, may be strong to render [the thanks] due to thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Laus Deo per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
Praise to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Response – “Deo gratias” (Thanks to God)