Corpus Christi Processions

Corpus Christi Procession Pendleton

Corpus Christi procession of devotees from the St. Andrew's Mission on the Umatilla Reservation in Pendleton, Washington.

During the Feast of Corpus Christi, there is a procession of the blessed sacrament. The attendants of the Mass gather together outside the church and receieve a benediction. These photographs show processions taking place in several Plateau communities, including Inchelium, De Smet, and Pendleton.

These Plateau processions usually took the same format, with the Altar boys leading by carrying the cross in front, the congregation following, the choir singing behind them, and the priests in the rear with the Eucharist. (Given the potential danger of this area, these processions were usually accompanied by several armed guards as well.) The procession led out to one of several "wilderness Altars," where additional benedictions would be given and prayers would be recited. 

These ceremonies were always well attended by the local population and drew tribes from all over the Plateau. Jesuit misisonary Edward Griva notes in his 1926 Corpus Christi account that Native people would always ask when the feast was taking place again. He was usually hesitant to give an answer because of the lack of knowledge in advance. These feasts always attracted huge crowds, as seen in the photographs, and required large amounts of planning. 

Source: "Account of the Celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi in some Indian Missions 1926;" Edward Griva Collection, USA West Province Archives, Foley Livrary, Gonzaga Universtiy, Spokane, Washington.

Corpus Christi Processions