Processions These, as solemn and religious rites, are of very great antiquity, but evidently of pagan origin. With the Greeks and Romans, they took place chiefly on the festivals of Diana, Bacchus, Ceres, and other deities; also before the beginning of the games in the Circus; and in spring, when the fields were sprinkled with holy water to increase their fertility. The priests used to head them, carrying images of the gods and goddesses to be propitiated, and either started from certain temples or from the Capitol. The Romans, when the empire was distressed, or after some victory, used constantly to order processions, for several days together, to be made to the temples, to beg the assistance of the gods or to return them thanks. Among the Jews, processions were introduced for public prayers when the faithful people went in order to implore the divine help (Jos 6:15; 2Sa 6:15; Ezr 2:12-30; 1Ki 8:45; Nu 10:33-
36), with a form at setting out and when halting; or when rendering thanks to God (2Ch 20:21,27-28; Mt 21:9). Certain processions around the altar were (and still are to a certain extent) usual on the Feast of Tabernacles; and from them the Mohammedans have adopted their mode of encompassing the sanctuary seven times at Mecca (q.v.). Processions form a prominent part of the Buddhist worship. SEE PROCESSION.
In the Christian Church the practice was early introduced and has maintained itself to this day among the Romanists. In the earliest ecclesiastical phraseology the word processio denotes merely the act of requesting a religious assembly, and taking part in public worship. It is distinguished from private offices of devotion, and includes the idea of social worship, but without any additional idea of public ceremony, pomp, or the like. Procedere then meant to go to church, and is, in short, synonymous with sacris interesse, sacra. frequentare. This was the meaning given to the word by Tertullian (Ad Uxor. lib. ii, c. 4) and Jerome (Commentar. in Ep. 1 ad Cot. c. 11). In many canons and other ecclesiastical writings we also find the word procession, without any explanation or addition, used in the sense of a religious assembly (conventus et coetus populi in ecclesia). The Greek word σύναξις (as well as συναγωγή, σύλλογος, conf. Suiceri Thesauru.) is translated sometimes by collecta, sometimes by conventus, and sometimes by processio. When Christian worship began to be conducted openly, and churches were publicly frequented, the meaning of the word processio was exactly equivalent to our term church-going. After the 4th century, especially in later mediaeval times, the word was applied to processions usual at funerals, marriages, baptisms, as well as to the line of communicants at the Lord's Supper. Processions at festivals and on other occasions were, in course of time, quite common. Laws to protect such processions from interruption were passed, and any persons found guilty of disturbing them were subject to severe punishment. The first processions mentioned in ecclesiastical history are those set on foot at Constantinople, in the time of Chrysostom. The Arians of that city being forced to hold their meetings without the town, went thither night and morning, singing anthems. Chrysostom, to prevent their perverting the Catholics, adopted counter- processions, in which the clergy and people marched by night, singing hymns, and carrying crosses and torches. From this period the custom of processions was introduced both into the Eastern and Western churches (Chrysost. Or. contr. lud. et theatr .; Basil, Ep. 207, al. 63; Ambrose, Ep. 40 ad Theodos. n. 14; Augustine, De Civ. Dei, i, 22, c. 8; Rufin. Hist. Eccl. i, 2, c. 33). Even during the persecutions of the emperors there were at least some funeral processions (Act. S. Cypr. ap. Rom. Act. S. Bonifac.).
Various ceremonies were observed, according to the objects for which these processions were instituted, the spirit of the times in which they were celebrated, and the countries wherein they took place. The clergy usually attended: if the occasion was one of joy or thanksgiving, they were attired in the most splendid vestments. The laity put on their best attire, and were adorned with garlands and other ornaments; and the sound of bells and music was heard through the whole line. On occasions of mourning or penitence, the procession was distinguished by plain vestments, bare feet, deep silence, or sounds of lamentation and prayer, and sometimes by the exercise of flagellation. Men and women walked apart; and the line of procession was ranged with reference to the various ranks and classes of the persons who composed it. Lighted wax tapers were often carried in procession, especially on the festival of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, which was hence called festum or missa candelarum SEE CANDLEMAS. Litanies composed for the occasion were sung in Latin as the procession moved. The penitential psalms and the psalms of degrees were employed on the occasion, as well as many Latin hymns.
These processions have always been more common in the Western than in the Eastern Church. The Reformation greatly lessened them even in the Roman Catholic Church, and, especially in mixed countries, processions are less frequent or popular nowadays. They are there either supplicatory processions or cross processions, and are either directed to a certain distant place, to some miraculous image or object, or they are confined to the streets of the cities and the churches. Banners, crosses, and images are generally carried in front; the clergy follow; and the people make up the rear, singing hymns or reciting prayers. In some Protestant states they are still permitted, under certain restrictions. The Protestants themselves rarely practice them, excepting the Ritualists (q.v.).
In the mediaeval Church the name procession was given to the ritual march, at the time of the celebration of the host, of the celebrant, and especially the bishop and his assistants, from the church door or the sacristy to the altar. In a narrower sense, the procession is now a ritual walk, the purpose of which is thanksgiving or supplication, or an honor paid to a person either living or dead. For the walks of the first kind alone, the purpose of which is thanksgiving, the term "procession" is employed without any more special determination; those of the second kind are usually called by Romanists "litaniae," "rogationes," "supplicationes," and also "exomologeses," "stationes," which were their former names. Among the walks of the third kind we mention the solemn entrance, attended with ecclesiastical ceremonies, of a bishop, pope, or sovereign into a place; the funeral, and even the bridal procession. Another distinction between different processions is this, that in some of them the host is carried about, in others it is not; the former are called theophoric processions (θεός and φορέω). All these processions are either prescribed on certain days of the year and on certain occasions, or simply allowed in certain circumstances. Among the prescribed processions, the most important are the Corpus- Christi procession. Candlemas-day, the procession on Palm-Sunday, the litany of St. Mark's Day, the litany on the three days of the Week of Prayer, and. finally, the funeral procession. Curates or ecclesiastics of a higher rank may organize processions on the harvest festival, in great distresses, etc.
Each procession has (and here we depend on Roman Catholic writers) a leader, who is either a priest or a bishop. The priestly leader wears the chasuble and stole, and often the pluvial besides; his head is covered with a barret. The episcopal leader wears chasuble, stole, and pluvial; his head is covered with the mitre; he holds the pastoral staff in his left hand, with his right hand he blesses the people before whom the procession passes. The color of the stole, pluvial, and mitre is suited to the purpose of the procession. If (as is the case in the theophoric processions and when a particle of the cross is carried about for public veneration) the head must be uncovered, the bishop has the staff carried in front of him and the mitre behind him. In theophoric processions the blessing with the right hand is also omitted. In this case the leader carries the venerable thus: he holds the ostensorium with both hands before his face, while his hands are covered with the vellum hanging down from both his shoulders. The organization of the Catholic Church, as a community presided over by the clergy, requires this leadership by ecclesiastics. If the leader wears the chasuble and stole, he declares by his dress that unceasing efforts to attain purity of heart (alba) and a childlike trust in the merits of Jesus Christ (stola) are the festive robes which every Christian, but more especially every priest, should wear in and outside of the house of God. If, besides, the bishop carries the staff and wears the mitre, it is for the purpose of reminding the Christians that he is their highest pastor, whose care surrounds and whose benediction follows them everywhere. If the leader (unless prevented by his veneration of the body of Christ or his reverence for the beam of the cross) have his head covered, this is a hint given to the faithful that it is their duty to revere the priest as their father in Christ. If the priest cover with a vellum the hands that hold the ostensorium, he confesses therewith his unworthiness of carrying, under the form of the bread, the body of him who created heaven and earth. The leader of the procession has generally assistants and a suite of honor. If the leader be a priest, he is assisted, if possible, by two levites, one walking to his right, the other to the left, and dressed, according to the color of the leader, as deacon and subdeacon, or at least by two acolytes. If the leader be a bishop, a few canons of his cathedral, at least, should walk before him, dressed in the pluvial. If the procession be theophoric, two acolytes, walking immediately before the leader, incense the venerable uninterruptedly with their censers; in this case, also, a baldachin is generally extended over the leader, and borne by four, six, or eight laymen of distinction. It seldom happens that the leader of a non-theophoric procession walks beneath the baldachin: it is then a personal honor, only bestowed on bishops on extraordinary occasions, as on their solemn entrance into a church. In countries where the custom has hitherto existed, it is allowable to spread the baldachin over particles of the cross or other instruments of Christ's passion. The faithful who participate in the procession walk two by two. This may find an analogy in Christ's sending out his disciples two by two to preach the Gospel. Gregory the Great (Horn. 17 in Evang.) declares this to be a symbol of the two commandments of love-the love of God and the love of our fellow-man. Though the non-observance of this prescription is attended with much inconvenience, it is neglected in many processions in the cities and country. Mabillon saw even in Rome a procession where the faithful walked partly two by two, partly three by three, and even in larger numbers (Iter Ital. v. 152). The faithful who participate in the procession (monks who are not bound by their rule to entire seclusion can be compelled by the bishops to attendance) are disposed with respect to the class and sex they belong to. This is a requirement of good order. We find this arrangement mentioned by the oldest writers. St. Augustine speaks of a procession which took place near Hippo, where the bishop walked in the middle, the people before and after him (De Civ. Dei, i, 22, c. 8, n. 11). Porphyry of Gaza made the people precede, and followed himself with his clergy (Sur. 26 Feb.). The great procession held by Gregory the Great indicated seven different churches, as starting-points for seven different classes of people (clerks, monks, female servants of God, married women, widows, poor, and children).
In our times the procession is generally (the custom is not the same everywhere) opened by the children: they are put, as it were, in the first line of battle, in order that God may be moved by their innocence to listen favorably to the prayers of the community. The children are followed by the clergy, with the chanters and musicians; among the clergy the leader of the procession walks the last, behind him the men, the prominent citizens taking the lead, followed by the women. The promiscuous walking of persons of both sexes is nowhere allowed. The order, as described, places the leader, as pastor of the community, in the middle of the procession: he is the shepherd of the children as well as of the adults, of the innocent as well as of the penitent, of the married people as well as of the unmarried: he must always in life be near to all of them. If brotherhoods, societies of mechanics, and members of religious orders are present, the two first mentioned open the cortege, the latter walk before the chanters and musicians. In front of the procession and between its different divisions, crosses or crucifixes, flags, and, if the procession is a very solemn one, images, relics, statues, etc., are carried. The bearer of the principal crucifix has two acolytes — one to his right, the other to his left — each with a lighted taper in his hand. The carrying of the images, statues, etc., is committed to the care of the brotherhoods, associations, and partly to the young men and girls of the community; the relics are carried by the clergymen, or, if the procession is held in honor of the relics, by the leader of the procession. The principal crucifix SEE PROCESSIONAL CROSS is generally carried (if possible) by a subdeacon; subdeacons also carry the crucifixes before the chapters, the archbishops, and the pope. The crosses are carried before the pope and archbishops in such a way that the image of the crucified one is turned towards those dignitaries. The principal crucifix opens the procession, unless a flag has been preferred, in which case the crucifix follows at some distance. Brotherhoods and corporations are in the habit of having flags carried before them. The most important of these customs are very old. Sozomen (Hist. Eccl. i, 8, c. 8) and the biographer of St. Caesarius of Arles (Sur. 27 Aug.) knew already of the carrying of crosses or crucifixes (during many centuries naked crosses were alone in use) and of lighted tapers. In former times the book of the Gospels was sometimes carried along with the cross (Vit. S. Porphyr. Ep. Sur. 26 Feb.). Flags, which, it must be observed, are not prescribed, but only allowed, are mentioned by Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc. i, 5, c. 4). Gregory the Great ordered an image of Mary to be carried about as early as 590 (Baron. Annal. ad a. 590). In the 4th century, we find processions held for the purpose of transferring relics solemnly to the churches (Socrat. Hist. Eccl. i, 3, c. 16; Augustine, Confess. i, 9, c. 7). The Synod of Braga in 572 (ibid. c. 6) calls this a solemn custom (see Conc. Clovesh. a. 747, c. 16). The faithful walk (ibid. c. 6) quietly and devoutly. Idle talk, forward looking around, laughing, showy suits, luxury of dress, etc., shock the pious mind. The men walk bareheaded; the clergy and magistrates alone are, with some restrictions, allowed to cover their heads. The clerks wear the chasuble; only on most sacred occasions, as at the procession of the Corpus Christi, we find the custom that at least some of the subdeacons wear the tunica, some of the deacons the dalmatica, several priests the planeta, and the ecclesiastics of higher rank the pluvial. The subdeacons who carry the crosses wear the tunica, besides the amictus, alba, and cingulum. For the laymen there are no longer any rules in this respect. Sozomen (Hist. Eccl. i, 8, c. 8) speaks of all the faithful bearing burning tapers; we hear of them in other places appearing barefooted, in sack and ashes (Conc. Mogunt. a. 813, c. 33); Charlemagne himself, according to the narrative of a monk of St. Gall, set the example of walking barefooted in procession at Ratisbon (Mart. De Ant. Ecclesiastes Rit. i, 4, c. 27, a. 7); but these are things of the past. The purport of the prayers is in accordance with the purpose of the procession. Yet the Church has given some rules. At theophoric processions, especially that of the Corpus Christi, the hymns in honor of the Eucharist must be sung in preference (Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, Verbum supernum prodiens); special songs are also prescribed for the procession at Candlemas and on Palm-Sunday; for the litanies of St. Mark's Day and of the Week of Prayer, the litany of All-saints' and the versicles and orations which follow it in the breviary are prescribed. At the funeral procession of full-grown persons, prayers of intercession; at. the funerals of children, thanksgiving prayers are in use.
As extraordinary processions are generally undertaken for a purpose that must be submitted to God in special prayers, regulations have been made for these cases too. The Roman ritual mentions expressly the processio ad petendam pluviam, the processio ad postulandam serenitalten, the procession in time of famine, in time of epidemic and plague, in time of war, in any other great distress, the thanksgiving procession, and, finally, that for the translation of relics. Originally the people sang psalms on such occasions (Jerome, Ep. 108, al. 27; Gregor. Nazianz. Or. 10; Vit. S. Potphyr. Ep. Sur. 26 Feb.); only when the purpose of the procession was to obtain some favor from God, it was an early custom to exclaim quite frequently, "Kyrie eleison," or recite other prayers of penitence (Chrysost. Orat. contr. lud. et theatr.). This is the way the litany of Allsaints' has been little by little composed. The common Roman Ordo says: "Omnes in commune ' Kyrie eleison' decantent, et cum contritione cordis Dei misericordiar exorent pro peccatis, pro pace, pro peste, pro conservatione frugum et pro caeteris necessitatibus." Mabillon (Comment. in Ord. Rom. p. 34) saw an old Roman ritual according to which a hundred "Kyrie eleison." a hundred "Christe eleison," and again a hundred "Kyrie eleison" were to be said kneeling, in such a propitiatory procession. As the psalms ceased little by little to be known by heart, rosary-praying, which has become of so general use in our day, took their place. The procession comes out of a place of worship, and, its walk performed, returns to it. If (as at funerals) not all the participants, the clergy, at least, with the chanters and the bearer of the principal cross, always return. Even if a bishop or pope is received outside of the doors of the city, it is customary for the clergy to start from the church and return thither with that high personage. The procession on Candlemas-day and Palm-Sunday starts at the call of the leader, "Procedamus in pace" (the choir answering, "In nomine Christi, amen"). In theophoric processions the leader or the chanters give the signal by commencing the hymn Pcnge lingua; if it is a supplication, the assembly kneel down a few minutes praying, the chanters commence to sing the litany of All-saints', and the procession starts, singing the hymn Sancta Maria, which is a part of that litany. If in supplications (which is often the case in rural communities) the litany of All-saints' is not recited in Latin, the procession commences thus: the ecclesiastic leader kneels on the lowest step of the high-altar, begins to say the rosary aloud, rises at the first Ave of the first decade, and therewith gives the signal for starting. The litany procession stops frequently at one, or two, or even more places of worship. The clergy (or at least the superiors) of the church where it stops receive it in chasuble and stole, with two acolytes, at the gate of the churchyard, or at the portal of the church, and offer holy water to the clerks and distinguished laymen of the procession. In such places of worship it is customary to sing an antiphony, and a versicle and oration in honor of the patron of the church; sometimes a high-mass, with or without sermon, is held in one of them. The laymen like at such occasions to sing three times the song of triumph and the little doxology. This stopping, which, especially in Milan, is so extensively in use (luring the rogations celebrated there in the week that follows Ascension that the procession stops on the first day at twelve, on the second at nine, and on the third at eleven churches (comp. Mabill. Lit. Gaullic. p. 153), is a custom of great antiquity. The Gallican liturgy mentions it as a well- known matter (Missale Gothic.; Missale Gallic. Vet.; Cod. 306). Gregory of Tours speaks of it as an established custom (Hist. Franc. i, 9, c. 6). The seven bodied procession of Gregory the Great started from seven churches and stopped at the Church of Our Lady (Greg. Tur. Hist. Franc. i, 10, c. 1). The reception by the clergy of the church where the procession stops is also a very old custom (Leo III in Libr. Pontif.); it was called "Occurrere." As processions in such cases, especially in the country, have often to walk an hour or more before they reach another place of worship, the Church has found it necessary, from time to time, to warn the faithful not to make of these intervals an occasion for feasting and tippling (Rit. Rom.; comp. Conc. Clovesh. a. 747, c. 16). When the procession walks inside of the places of worship, or in their immediate neighborhood, the bells of the steeple are rung. This reminds one of the procession which followed the body of St. Anastasius, and at which a noise was produced by striking on consecrated woods (Conc. Nicoen. a. 787, act. 4). Processions of less importance move only inside the walls of the house of worship. Such is the case with all processions in countries where the Catholic religion does not enjoy complete freedom of worship. According to the rules, processions should precede the high-mass, but this is practically the case with very few (comp. the Rit. Romn., the Coerem. epp., and the Rubricists). — Aschbach, Kirchen-Lex. s.v.
The origin of processions may have been an imitation of the motion of the heavenly spheres, the courses of the stars, and the revolutions of seasons, and more immediately of ancient religious dances. They were always accompanied by singers, and generally by musicians. Procession is progression, says Durand, when a multitude, headed by the clergy, goes forth in regular order and ranks to implore the divine grace. It represents the pilgrimage of man upon earth on his way to the better land, from the cradle to the grave, as St. Paul says that we are pilgrims and sojourners in this world. Processions round cloisters and cemeteries still more vividly brought before the mind the thought of the last home to which man must come at length, as waters, after the most devious course, are lost in the great sea. In a procession to the altar, in reverse order to that of the recession, first went the verger, the crossbearer, attended on either side by acolytes carrying candlesticks and lighted tapers; then came the censers, or thurifers, the chanters in copes and carrying batons, the subdeacon, deacon, and celebrant; then choir boys, clerks of the second grade, and the more honorable following. In the cathedral the precentor, the sub-chanter of canons (prechcantre), and the succentor of vicars (souschantre), each with his chanter's baton, preceded the bishop, carrying his cross, or staff. In the middle of the 15th century the capitular tenants went in procession on St. Peter's Eve at Exeter, preceded by the choristers carrying painted shields of arms.
In England processions were made with litanies and prayers,
(1) for the prosperity of the king; (2) for the wealth of the realm; (3) for pureness of the air; (4) for the increase of the fruits of the earth.
Two processions for the good success of a king were made on Sundays about the church and churchyard, by English canons, in 1359 and 1398. On Ash-Wednesday, after confession in church, there was a solemn procession for ejecting the penitents, who were not readmitted until Maundy Thursday. On Easter-day was a grand procession in memory of the disciples going to meet our Lord in Galilee, and in imitation of it there was a humbler procession on every Sunday. The other great procession was annual, on Palm-Sunday. Bishops were also met with processions of the chapter and vicars, or a convent, at the west door of the church and the cemetery gate, by decree of Honorius 3, 1221. In 1471 all curates of the diocese were required to visit the high-altar of Lincoln Cathedral in procession, and make their offerings. In the nave the great processions were arranged. At Canterbury two parallel lines, and at Fountains, Lincoln, Chichester, and York two rows of circular processional stones were arranged at proper intervals, and specifically allotted. At Exeter the antiphon was sung daily at the screen, and the procession passed through the north gate of the choir to the vestibule of the Lady Chapel, and then by the south gate of the choir near the throne to the high-altar. It afterwards traversed the nave and cloisters, concluding before the rood-loft; and if there was no sermon, the procession returned to the altar. Carpets were strewn along the way on great festivals. Bishop Edyngdon desired to be buried at Winchester, where the monks stood in procession on Sundays and holydays. These monks, being aggrieved by a bishop, on one occasion went round their cloisters from west to east, out of their usual manner, in order to show that all things were out of order. At Chichester at Epiphany an image "of the Spirit" was carried round the church by the dean or senior canon and two vicars. On Whitsun-Monday the parishioners in the diocese often came to blows about right of precedence, so that bishop Storey made injunctions (1478) for order on this occasion, when the shrine of St. Richard was visited annually. Crosses and banners were permitted, but the long painted rods with which the contending parties had hitherto belabored each other were proscribed, as well as laughing, crowding, and noise. The pilgrims entered by the great south porch and assembled in the choir at 10 A. M. and left the building by it, having duly visited "the chancel and church." In 1364 the primate forbade such dangerous contentions throughout England. As late as 1551 the city companies of London went in procession — the Fislmongers to St. Michael's, Cornhill, with three crosses, a hundred priests, and the parishioners and members of the guild carrying white rods; and the parish of St. Clement Danes displayed eighty banners and streamers, and was preceded by the city waits. On Easter- Monday at Kinnersley and Wellington the parishioners, adult and children, joined hand-in-hand, surrounded the church and touched it with a general simultaneous embrace, called "clipping the church." They afterwards attended divine service. The procession at Wolverhampton on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation week. in which the children bore poles dressed with flowers and the clergy chanted the Benedicite, only ceased in 1765. Some of the Gospel trees or holy oaks where the stations were formed still remain. — Walcott, Sacred Archceol. s.v. See Middleton, Letters from Rome; Willet, Synops. Pap.; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, 8:803- 809; Martigny, Dict. des Anitiquites Chet. s.v.; Siegel, Christliche Alierthiimer; Riddle, Christian Antiquities, p. 757, 758, 771-774,833; Barnum, Romanism, p. 468.