On Sunday, the St. Marys community celebrated its 166th observance of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The service began with an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and litany in St. Mary's Church. Participants then moved outdoors and proceeded to the St. Joseph Monastery, the St. Mary's Parish Annex, and ended at Sacred Heart Church, celebrating a Benediction at each location. Local and area priests and deacons, altar servers, Eucharistic Ministers, choirs, parishioners and children with baskets of flower petals walked in the procession, prayed the litanies, sang hymns, offered prayers and strew flower petals along the procession route to "make a colorful carpet for the Lord."
Early newspaper articles have colorful descriptions of the processions, which grew throughout the years as the town grew. Photographs from the 1890s show the same silk embroidered canopy sheltering the Monstrance with the consecrated host that is still used in the processions.
This feast day is now known as the "Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ." It was formally proclaimed in 1264 by Pope Urban IV and is still celebrated with processions and Benedictions in many countries, including various ethnic parishes in the United States. It is a particular favorite celebration of the current Pope Benedict XVI, who is a native of Bavaria, as were the area's local settlers.
Photo by Jim Mulcahy.