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Corpus Christi roundup: Processions around the world

Eucharist in Monstrance

Marco Sete | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 06/05/24

Thousands of Catholics throughout the world joined processions to celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Catholics all over the world joined processions for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also called the Feast of Corpus Christi, on Thursday, May 30, or Sunday, June 2. (The feast is celebrated on different days in different parts of the world, as it is sometimes moved to the Sunday following the traditional Thursday feast.)

The displays of Catholic faith and unity in Christ varied in their pageantry, but each of the assembled crowds expressed their faith in the Eucharist as they sang hymns and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.

This solemnity, which acknowledges and celebrates the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, came at a unique time for Catholics in the US, as they are over two weeks into the two-month National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. US Catholics will be celebrating the Real Presence for a while yet, as the pilgrimage will conclude with the National Eucharistic Congress, an enormous Catholic event that will take place in Indianapolis this July. 

It is a special time in the US, but that does not detract from the deep devotions on display across the globe on Corpus Christi. From small parishes leading a few dozen through their community to large parades in which thousands of Catholics wound through city streets, the faithful came out in droves to walk with Christ. 

Rome

At St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, Pope Francis participated in the Corpus Christi procession for the first time in years. The Pope’s health has prevented him from the procession for the last two years and COVID-19 got in the way for the two years before that. While he didn’t walk or ride during the procession, he went to the end of the route to give the final benediction at St. Mary Major.

At the Mass in St. John Lateran, Pope Francis spoke on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as well as the Eucharist’s healing power, speaking of the “fresh aroma of the bread of love.” With a nod to the many armed conflicts taking place in the world, he said: 

“Our world desperately needs the Bread of the Eucharist, so that streets filled with rubble and the destruction of war may return to peaceful places filled with the smell of freshly baked bread.”

United States

It was a beautiful day for the procession that came from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The crowd wasn’t so large, just about the size of a church’s worth of congregants, but the procession was no less lovely.

The high quality video, while brief, gives a wonderful look at the small community’s devotion as they knelt for Benediction in the grass. 

In Michigan, the Diocese of Ann Arbor put together a similarly high quality video, in celebration of the parish’s first deanery-wide Corpus Christi procession. The procession went from St. Mary’s parish through the campus of the University of Michigan, and to the streets of Ann Arbor. 

This cinematic video shows hundreds, if not thousands, who joined the procession. Narrator Fr. Kyle Shinseki spoke on the curious looks that the procession drew from onlookers who were not sure what was going on, which included one cat who watched from the window of a residence.

“I really believe that even though we might not see the fruits of this procession right now, that our Lord and his mysterious ways … He’s fully present there. This is God. Fully God. Fully Human. Body and blood, soul and divinity, that we’re bringing into the streets. And to truly believe that that presence will transform people’s hearts as we pass by them. For me, that just gives me so much hope.”

UK and Ireland

One of the larger processions that took place on Corpus Christi was seen moving through the streets of London.

The cheerful group sang hymns as they followed the Eucharist, led through the songs by the priests up front, who projected their voices through a loudspeaker on one man’s back. As they reach a main street, there is an interesting juxtaposition between the traffic of the material world on one side of the road and the ancient Church conducting its solemn traditional march on the other. 

Northern Ireland has experienced a shift in recent years that has led to Catholics now outnumbering their Protestant counterparts. The 2021 census was the first time in history that the traditionally Protestant nation had seen its Catholics rise to become the plurality, at about 42%.

While the video did not follow the procession, we saw hundreds of people processing past the stationary camera. 

Similarly sized crowds can be seen in Ireland’s County Cork, the southernmost county in Ireland. The video is a collection of photographs from the celebration, but they show off the packed churches and large processions that featured icons, flags, colorful umbrellas, and various members of religious orders. 

Spain

It’s really hard to outdo the Spaniards when it comes to a lively festive atmosphere, and no procession can quite equal the one in Barcelona. This full-scale parade included miniature floats (costumes carried by one or two people), live music, traditional outfits, and there were even folks on stilts in full costume.

While jovial, the crowds abandoned the festive music for reverent silence when the bells rang and the Eucharist took the spotlight. 

Elsewhere in Spain, in a town called Baeza, the Eucharistic procession is given an armed escort by the Academy of Guards and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Civil Guard of Baeza: Not because Baeza is an especially dangerous area, but rather because the Academy has a long standing tradition of supporting the procession.

While perhaps less exciting than the Barcelona procession, the sight of hundreds of uniformed men and women marching in unison is no less impressive. 

Međugorje

In the city of Međugorje, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there were thousands who came to the procession. The town enjoys a large Catholic presence, as it is a popular place of pilgrimage. In 1981, alleged Marian apparitions took place on what is now called Apparition Hill, where there is a statue of Mary under the name “Queen of Peace.” This may have been the largest procession on the list. While the video did not estimate the number in attendance, it shows a sea of faces that the camera could not spot the end of.

These are just a handful of Catholic processions that took place all over the world for Corpus Christi, but there were tons more. Do you have footage of your own parish’s Corpus Christi procession?Share it with Aleteia on Facebook

Tags:
Devotions and FeastsEucharistReal PresenceWorld
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