There are numerous accounts processions in the Bible, from organized affairs such as processions with the Ark of the Covenant to the impromptu one surrounding the entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday. With this background, and that of the Roman Imperial tradition (the Triumphs of victorious generals being the best-known example), it is not surprising that the Church began to incorporate such practices into her own life shortly after she was legalized by Constantine.
Although the first Christian processions took place firmly within the Liturgy, they soon moved out of doors. The type of prayer called “litany” today was expressly designed for these functions, wherein the Church would offer prayers for all degrees of folk within both Church and State, invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and various Saints. In 375, St. Basil mentioned one such in a letter, followed by St. Ambrose in 388 — both letters spoke of this practice as long established.
In periods of plague or famine, processions bearing saints’ relics would be held, begging Heaven for an end to the calamity. The participants might be barefooted and even literally covered with sackcloth and ashes — such catastrophes were seen as Divine punishments requiring penance. It was in the course of one of these processions in 590 that Pope St. Gregory the Great had a vision of the Archangel St. Michael atop Hadrian’s Mausoleum sheathing his sword. The plague ceased from that moment, and the building has been called Castel Sant’ Angelo ever since.
How it works at Oscott:
The procession starts at 8:00pm and it will be a candlelit procession. We will begin in the chapel and allow for the seminarians and priests to begin the procession outside and around the grounds praying the rosary. They will be carrying the statue of Our Lady and the visitors join the procession behind the statue. We will finish with the litany of Mary at the front of the College by the stone statue of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom.
All are welcome.