Catholic processions are a form of popular piety and devotion among the faithful. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1674). These processions extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it, and should be drawn up to lead them to it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1675). So it is good that a Catholic procession conclude with the celebration of Mass.
Catholic processions are sacred public processions by people of all faiths in public places led by a bishop, priest, deacon, religious or lay person, with some or all of the following: the Blessed Sacrament; sacred images; banners and statues.
These processions are the fruit of the seeds planted by the Jews. They processed with the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the presence of God, as does the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in it. They processed with the Ark around the walls of the city of Jericho, until the walls fell and gave the Jews their entry to the Promised Land. (Joshua 6:1-27).
The purpose of Catholic processions is to arouse the faithful’s devotion, to commemorate God’s benefits to man and to thank Him for them, to peacefully protest evil and to call upon God for further assistance. That is why they ought to be celebrated in a truly religious manner. Decorum and reverence must prevail. The procession should be orderly and dignified, not like a barbarian army. We are soldiers of Christ.
Processions give public witness of our faith that Jesus Christ, through the intercession and mediation of Our Lady, will bring the victory over our Culture of Death and bring us to a Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love, for which St. John Paul II often prayed.
If possible, incorporate in your processions religious organizations and associations to process as groups in their uniforms, or distinctive attire, if any, such as the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters of America, etc.
Processors should be praying and silent when not praying. It is difficult for a large procession to pray in unison and the prayers and/or singing should be organized in advance by the leaders. The Rosary can be prayed and the Litanies of the Sacred Heart, of the Divine Mercy, of the Saints or of Loreto can be prayed or sung with their respective simple responses, “Have mercy on us”, “I trust in you” or “Pray for us.” To maintain voices in unison there should be section leaders processing outside of the other processors by sections. It may be necessary to use megaphones.
There should be no posters, placards, signs, or other non-sacred objects in the procession. There should also be no arguing with hecklers or others and no shouting, but a simple, prayerful witness to the love and mercy of God.
Order of Processors
A Cross Bearer leads the procession followed by the Blessed Sacrament, if present, and then the other sacred objects that are followed by clergy who must be properly attired. The men should be separate from the women, and the laity separate from the clergy, although this rubric is seldom followed and more often men and women are mixed in the procession.
The Order of Processors for Eucharistic Processions:
• Crossbearer, accompanied by candlebearers
• Clergy wearing copes or vestments for Mass
• Deacon of the Mass
• Censer bearer with burning incense
• Priest or Bishop carrying the Blessed Sacrament [walking under a canopy if it is used] and
accompanied by torchbearers
• The people [perhaps carrying lighted candles]
• Suitable banners
• Musical instruments
How to Organize a Procession
Laypeople who would like to organize a procession should contact their pastor for permission to do so. You should also ask him to participate with the Blessed Sacrament and that he request the Bishop to participate as well.
If he gives you permission, but declines to participate and to request the Bishop, you could request the Bishop yourselves or request your deacon to lead with your pastor’s consent and, if they decline, you may do it yourselves, even if you have no one’s permission. Laypersons do not need the permission of clergy or religious to have a simple lay procession with sacred images.
The processional route is usually from a church to Planned Parenthood, or another abortion center, pornographic center or other center of evil and return to the church for celebration of Mass, a holy hour or other liturgical service. If there is no definite destination for the procession, it can simply loop back to the church.
Those who are unable to join the procession may remain in the church interceding for the purpose of the procession until the processors return. If the place of the procession, such as an abortion center, is located too far from a church, it should begin and end at the place. Logistics should be organized to transfer the Blessed Sacrament and the images to the place.
Suitable arrangements should be made with public authorities and local law enforcement officials for parade permits and for the safety of the participants.
Relevant parts of these guidelines should be read by a leader before the beginning of the procession. The mission should be explained and any special rules or instructions should be announced. Try to keep everything as simple as possible.
Kinds of Processions
Best: Procession led by a Bishop with the Blessed Sacrament and other sacred objects, ending in Mass.
Better: Procession led by a priest or deacon with the Blessed Sacrament and other sacred objects, ending in Mass.
Good: Procession led by a deacon without the Blessed Sacrament, but with other sacred objects, ending in a Holy Hour.
Fair: Procession led by a religious or a layperson without the Blessed Sacrament, but with other sacred objects, ending in a Holy Hour.
Please click here to learn how to host a Visitation with the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe or our other images of Jesus King of All Nations, the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of America. Then contact us to host a Visitation and/or to arrange for processions and Holy Hours with these images.
Here is some more information to inspire you to host a Visitation:
Processions for Life, Peace, Justice and Mercy, A Testimony
Processions for Life, Peace, Justice and Mercy, An Introduction
Please click here to read one of our Jericho Processions Visitation Report.
Please click here to read some other Visitation Reports.
Please click here to see more procession photos.
Read about Archbishop Aquila’s procession here.
Please sign the Petition here to request the United States Bishops to honor the request of Our Lady of America to have her statue solemnly processed and displayed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as a safeguard for our country, as she promised.
Click here to read or download The Missionary Image Visitation Manual.
The Visitation Manual contains a Timeline Checklist of Responsibilities found at the link above on pages 27 and 28.
We also provide religious goods on consignment to explain the Images and promote the devotions. You may see them here.
If you would like more information, please contact us.
Diocese of Springfield, Illinois and United States’ Bishops guidelines: