Corpus Christi Benedictions
The benedictions occur at one of several altars near the missions. The purpose of these benedictions is for the preist to bless the congregation with the Eucharist. The blessing with the Eucharist is preceded by a reasonable time for readings of the word of God, songs, prayers, and a period for silent prayer. The period of silence is an important element of the bendiction, invoking a sense of spiritual power that is heightened by the peacefulness of nature. Hymns such as the Tantum Ergo, O Salutaris Hostia, and Laudate Dominum are traditionally sung by the priests and congregation.
These photographs all display similar facets of the Corpus Christi benedictions: people gathered around a moveable altar, standing, sitting, or kneeling in silence, focussing intently on the priests' bendiction. In his journal, Jesuit missionary Edward Griva notes that the attendance of church services highly varied, as he was sometimes impressed with the number of Natives in attendance, and also sometimes dismayed and discouraged by poorly attended Masses. The Feast of Corpus Christi, however, as demonstrated in the photographs, was a very well attended affair across the Plateau.
Source: Edward Griva Collection; USA West Province Archives, Foley Library, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington.