A colourful Corpus Christi procession united Dunstable residents as local Christians celebrated a very special festival.
Smiling members of St Mary’s Parish Church, West Street, and Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Victoria Street, proudly greeted crowds on Sunday, June 18, for the festival of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the “reality of the Body and blood of Jesus Christ”.
The procession started at St Mary’s and went to the Polish community at Our Lady of Czestochowa, before everyone returned to St Mary’s for a spectacular buffet.
Judy Smither, organist and choir leader at St Mary’s and secretary of Dunstable Churches Together, said: “It was a wonderful occasion and a lot of people were moved to tears.
“We wanted to bring our two communities together, especially with what’s been going on in the national news.
“When we went to the Polish church there were crowds flowing outside and the children laid posies in the sanctuary as a gesture.
“Once we all returned to St Mary’s we gathered round the altar outside for the benediction, where everyone said prayers, sung hymns and thanked Jesus.”
Father Kieran Magovern (of St Mary’s) and Father Leszek (of Our Lady of Czestochowa) took part in the parade, with Father Leszek carrying the monstrance, a special cross used to carry a piece of bread, which is believed by Catholics to be the Risen Body of Jesus, Christ the Son of God himself under the appearance of bread.
The name ‘Corpus Christi’ is Latin for ‘the body of Christ’ and the festival celebrates the Eucharist as the body of Christ.
The Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion, Mass, the Lord’s Supper) is a re-enactment of the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ shared a final meal with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. Jesus ate bread and wine asking his disciples to do the same in memory of him.
Prayers and readings in a Eucharistic service are a reminder of that final meal and its significance. Christians taking part drink a sip of consecrated wine (or grape juice) and eat a tiny piece of consecrated bread.
People have different ways of doing this, and different ways of understanding what it means spiritually. Some believe that the bread and wine that is offered is the actual body and blood of Christ.
The festival is celebrated by Roman Catholics as well as other Christian groups, and is popular festival in Europe.
> St Mary’s: http://www.stmarys-dunstable.org/
> Our Lady of Czestochowa: http://www.ppld.co.uk/en/church/our-church