Friday, May 7, 2010


When I was a kid my pastor used to tell the story of when HE was a kid and the Eucharistic processions they used to have around their neighborhood on Corpus Christi. “People would scrub the curbs and paint them and the trunks of the trees along the route white,” he would say, “and the Blessed Sacrament would be carried beneath a canopy.” People generally liked the idea and so pitched in and purchased one of these canopies and for a couple of decades we had Corpus Christi processions.

As a priest I only did it once or twice. The logistics can be difficult to figure out at times. A friend of mine in an audience with John Paul II was told to continue this tradition; that he should do it every year to promote a stronger reverence for the Eucharist.

The canopy about which I am speaking is a covering over the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance that is carried in procession out of doors. The Church used to be rife with the symbolism of placing a covering over sacred or revered objects. There were chalice covers, covers for ciboria, canopies over pulpits, the bishop’s cathedra, and most notably is the covering, or tester, or baldachino over the altar of sacrifice. The portable baldachin or canopy is part of this old tradition. If nothing else it certainly marks where the object or in this case Person of importance is.

There are two basic versions. The canopy is generally a rectangular piece of material properly adorned and supported by either four or six poles born by people in procession. Another version is called an ombrellino that looks something like a very fancy umbrella with one pole that has at times has decided bend in a joint of the shaft so that the person standing behind the bearer of the Blessed Sacrament can project it forward yet level over the monstrance.

It is a symbol of great respect and reverence.


melody said...

We used to belong to a parish that did this annually. The advantage was that it was nestled into a lovely neighborhood heavy with parishioners. Folks would prepare their yards and make little shrines to welcome the Eucharistic Lord. We had a trumpet player in the parish and he would play while we sang hymns.

I can see that the logistics would be much more difficult in our current parish but I'm sure something could be creatively worked out. Definitely worth the effort! I often tell the kids about those processions. We had only one then and he doesn't remember being in the stroller.

Here's a link to a nice handmade canopy. It seems likely that every parish has at least one individual as talented.

Anonymous said...

As a parishioner, I'd be happy to participate in such a procession but I don't know how hard it would be to arrange. Unfortunately, the burden falls on you, Father, as well as our parochial vicar and our deacon.

Adoro said...

Most parishes here have a procession on Corpus Christi. Some go on a walk around the block if they have residential streets. At my home parish, as we are at the corner of 2 very busy main streets, and there is no "circular" area, the procession exits the church, remains on parish property, travels through the parish cemetary and back into the church. Usually a rosary and divine mercy are prayed, with maybe a couple Eucharistic hymns.

There are some parishes that process from one parish to the next, and one, I think that goes from the LIttle Sisters of the Poor's chapel to the Basilica or something like that.