Corpus Christi moves to Savannah

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One of the most powerful demonstrations of Catholic culture and identity in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain takes place on Thursday in the capital city.

It is the annual Corpus Christi celebrations with the major highlight being the large procession with the Blessed Sacrament. This display of Catholic culture has been one of the high points in the Church’s annual calendar and dates back many decades.

The sight of the Archbishop carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the golden monstrance under a specially-designed canopy, while hundreds pay tribute along the route, is strong testimony to the identity of the country’s Catholic faithful.

The Port of Spain celebration, while being the largest in the country, is not the only observance of the Feast day. In parishes throughout the archdiocese similar celebrations with processions are held to uphold this beautiful tradition of the observance of this feast.

This year, however, there will be a major change with activities moving from downtown, to uptown.

Traditionally the procession sets off from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Minor Basilica of the Archdiocese, proceeds along Independence Square South stopping for Benediction at the western end of the Brian Lara Promenade, then returns to the Cathedral along Independence Square North.

Because of the closure of the cathedral for restoration, the Corpus Christi Mass will be concelebrated at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah beginning at 8.30 a.m. Archbishop Joseph Harris will preside for the first time.

The procession will follow the Mass, moving from outside the Grand Stand to Queen’s Park East, then south via Charlotte Street for Benediction outside Rosary Boys’ RC School. From there the procession moves west onto Park Street, then south along Frederick Street. The procession turns east along Independence Square North and ends outside the cathedral for the final Benediction.
To facilitate pilgrims, a free PTSC shuttle service will be available: from near the cathedral (southern side of the Catholic Centre Car Park near HDC) to the Savannah from 6.00 - 9.00 a.m. The return is from 12.30 – 2.00 p.m.

Planning committee coordinator Colin Chalmers told Catholic News that Corpus Christi is “a call out to all Catholics to witness to their faith” and expects the usual large turnout of faithful from parishes, communities and organisations in Port of Spain and environs.

He said this year, as the nation celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence in August, special intercessory prayers for the nation will be offered and the National Anthem will be sung at the Prayers of the Faithful.

Corpus Christi, the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, was universally established in the 13th century during the papacy of Pope Urban IV and was the result of the continuous petitions of an Augustinian nun St Juliana of Liège. It commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. – Vernon Khelawan and Raymond Syms