In an effort to publicly affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord over all of human existence, Catholics from around Alaska have embraced a centuries-old tradition of marching down main streets and along busy highways to mark the feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”).

Parishioners from St. Andrew Church process through Eagle River to honor the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Over the last few days, large caravans in the Kenai, Mat-Su, Eagle River, Anchorage and elsewhere have processed with incense, candles, canopies and banners as hundreds of parishioners followed priests who held aloft the Eucharist, which Catholics affirm is the Body of Christ.

Beginning last week, and running through this past Sunday, congregations have embarked on lengthy journeys through their communities.

“Participating in the Corpus Christi procession expresses our willingness to follow after our Lord as we make our way through life,” a notice from St. Andrew Church in Eagle River stated. “A Corpus Christi procession is also an outward indication of our understanding that we are to bring the presence of Jesus to all places beyond the walls of the church: into our homes and schools, into our workplace and the marketplace and into the streets and all places where we go each and every day. We literally take the presence of Jesus Christ beyond the church walls, indicating our desire to bring him to our Eagle River community and to the whole world.”

Corpus Christi celebrations, while not as common in the U.S. as they once were, date back to the 13th century when Pope Urban IV established a the public feast day to emphasize that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

In recent years, Corpus Christi has gained traction in increasingly secularized Western nations. It stands as a contrast to the many cities which now dedicate the entire month of June to LGBTQ Pride marches.

Catholic immigrants to the U.S. have long taken part in Corpus Christi celebrations with the Eucharist held aloft for the entire community to see.

While many Protestants disagree with the theology behind Corpus Christi, it does stand as a reminder that faith has a prominent role in the public square, and Americans have a right – some would argue a duty – to boldly affirm their faith in God.

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Catholics march through Alaska cities to bring Christ ‘into the streets’

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.