On January 1, 1891, Corpus Christi Church was consecrated. The magnificent church building was built for the wealthy community of Bolton Hill, then known as Bolton Depot. Its consecration on Jan. 1, 1891 was a major social and liturgical event.
Work on the church began in 1885. The parish had been founded in 1880, with the congregation meeting on the top floor of a school building across the street (near where the rectory is now). The rectory, across Lafayette Street, was built in 1894. The church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. This was the first church in the United States to be named Corpus Christi, and it was the first church in Baltimore to be built entirely of granite. It is one of very few "memorial” Catholic churches in the United States dedicated to an individual or family.
Corpus Christi was originally call the Jenkins Memorial Church. The Jenkins family was one of Maryland’s oldest families, prominent in business, philanthropy, church affairs and the arts. It was inspired in 1882 when Louisa Carrell Jenkins, a few days before her death, called her five children together and asked them to erect a church in memory of their father, Thomas Courtney Jenkins, who had died the previous Christmas Eve. The children decided to make the church the most magnificent in Baltimore, and to dedicate it to both their parents. Thomas and Louisa are buried in a crypt below the St. Joseph chapel and several of their children are buried below the St. Thomas Aquinas chapel.
The style of the church is decorated Gothic, a style of the 13th century. As with the original Gothic cathedrals of Europe, the ornate decoration is meant to both instruct and inspire. In the case of Corpus Christi, which means “Body of Christ” in Latin, the recurring themes throughout the church are wheat and wine. One can see these themes played out out on the marble floor, the mosaics, the stained glass windows, and the altars. Many of the mosaics and stained glass windows at Corpus Christi are considered some of the finest examples in the world. The Apse, for instance, contains five Florentine mosaics on glass depicting the life of Christ. The only other places where mosaics of this style and quality are found are at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice and at the Vatican