On November 25, 1510 St. Catherine’s day, the first Catholic procession on the soil of Goa led by Affonso de Albuquerque with his army along with some Franciscan and Dominican friars sowed the seed of the Catholic processions in Goa. As you go through the history, the historians say; when peace was granted to Church after three centuries of bloody persecution, public devotions became common and processions were frequently held, with preference for days, which the heathens had held sacred.
These processions were called Litanies, in them pictures and other religious emblems were camed, and this was first instituted by Pope Liberius. The one liturgical Litany, the “Litany of Saints” which was started dates back to the fifth century. In these litanies, there were seven processions, of clergy, monks, nuns, matrons, nonprofessionals, the poor, and children respectively, which were starting from seven different churches, proceeding to take part in the mass at St. Maria Maggiore in Rome.
The Pope and the people would go in a procession each day especially in Lent. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI led his first Good Friday procession from St. Peter’s square to the Colosseum, the way of the Cross. Processions from the earliest times formed part of the worship of the old nature gods and later formed an essential part ofthe celebration of the great religious festivals. Processions were first used in the same way as equivalent of the Greek for the assembly of the people in the Church, and in this sense, it appears to have been used by Pope Leo I. As to public processions, these seem to have come into rapid vogue after the recognition ofChristianity as the religion of the empire. At Jerusalem, it seems to have been long established towards the end of the 4th century. It is to such a procession that reference appears have been made in a letter of St. Basil, which would thus be the first recorded mention of a public Christian procession. In times of calamity litanies were held, in which the people walked in penitential robes, fasting, barefooted, and, in later times, frequently dressed in black and the relics of the Saints were carried. Funeral processions, accompanied with singing and the carrying of lighted tapers, were customary in early times.
On April 24, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said that his predecessor Pope John Paul Il is “at home” among the Saints in heaven, and they would form a living procession to accompany him into the glory of God. The processions are the traditions of the Roman Catholics throughout the world. The procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner, and at all times has been a natural form of public celebrations, as an orderly and impressive ceremony. The most important characteristic of the procession is that they still have a place in the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church and the rules governing the processions.
The ritual admonishes the priests in charge of processions, either ordinary or extraordinary, duly to instruct the faithful of the time at which the procession is to be held and the order to be followed in it. Processions may be conducted entirely within the Church premises or may have effect outside in the Church compound and even from one Church to another. A Crucifix is carried always on top of a staff head ofmost liturgical processions, symbolizing that the faithful are followers of Christ. Sometimes there is strewing of flowers, burning of incense, and the melodious peals of the bells. Extraordinary processions are ordered on special occasions, to pray for rain or fine weather, in time of storm, famine, plague or war. There are also processions of honour, for instance to meet a royal personage, or the bishop on his first entry into his diocese. In addition, in some processions clergy and laity, men and women, are to walk separately. Violet is the colour prescribed for processions, except on, the feast ofCorpus Christi, or on a day when some other colour is prescribed. The officiating priest wears a cope, or at least a surplice with a violet stole, the other priests and clergy wear surplices. When the Host is carried in procession, it is always covered by a canopy and accompanied by lights.
In Goa, processions for blessing of fields and the crops, or on Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Romaries to Old-Goa, Sancoale and Pilar are very common in every parish as well as the processions of Our Lady’s visits from house to house. In addition, there were many other religious processions existing in Goa, as various religious Orders followed the traditions like the procession of the Rosary by Dominicans, the procession of the flagellants and of the ‘bones of the hanged’ by Confraternity of the charity, the Corpus Christi, the procession of the Passion of Our Lord by the Augustinians. According to Jesuit Fr. L. Frois wrote in 1557 that for every day the members of all the religious Orders held processions for the reformations of manners and the confusion of non- Christians.
The famous traveler Pietro Della Valle observed the processions and said that, there IS no country world, where there are so many processions held throughout the year as in Goa. However, many of these processions stopped long ago. Archbishop Dom Francisco De Assunqäo by Decree ofApril 6, 1755 banned the practice ofrnoving holy images mechanically in the representations of the Passion and by the Decree ofNovember 8, 1755 he put an end to the procession of flagellants from St. Paul College Old-Goa because it ended very often in a frenzy of bloody flagellations. The two unique processions still exist, Capas Magnas at Se Cathedral of Old-Goa on Good Friday and “Procession of Saints” on the fifth Monday in Lent at Goa—Velha village. This unique event the “Procession of Saints” is a remarkable and significant celebration in the world.
There are many different processions in the world and many elements try to make a procession more significant than just people walking in the same direction are. The Pope was traditionally carried in aspecial sedan chair known as the “sedia gestatoria”. While in 1986 when Pope John Paul II visited Goa, Archbishop Raul Gonsalves led the papal entourage from Dabolim airport to Bishop’s House Panjim. Music, including everything from the
choir of a Church procession to the marching band of a military procession may march before the procession calling on the people to clear the way for it. The banners, fans, icons, treasure, or other eye-catching items, or leading exotic animals, this was a very important part of Roman triumphs, as visual proof of the warrior’s success. The King Momo leads his entourage for four days of carnival revelry in Goa and in many other countries. St. Isidro festivities in Philippines celebrates the “farmers day” with parades, the procession routes decorated with lavish arrangements of fruits and vegetables and colored rice flakes. In Italy, they had the “masked procession” a weeklong party that runs up to Ash Wednesday and a “procession of snake-catchers” in honor of St. Domenico Abate who had miraculous healing power over snakebites. In the month of February, a “flower parade” is held in France. During world youth day at Paris, the vigil included a “procession of banners” featuring many Saints. At Christmas, time lantern processions are held throughout the world.
Guadalupe, Lourdes, Garabandal and Fatima are the most famous places for the candlelight processions, whilst silent processions are held for peace. The world’s only “dancing procession” 0fchternachLUXemb0Urg in honor of St. Willibrord goes through the streets and winds up in the Basilica. The “Procession of women” in Antigua; women shoulder the Holy images during the holy week. In Lisbon Portugal, during the “red waistcoat festival” a boat procession is led in villa Franca de Xira, and a “water procession” carrying an image of Nossa Senhora Da Vida in Alcochete. The “procession of species” at Corvallis-Oregon during the Earth fair and to celebrate the earth day, is followed by creative “procession of costumes”. Traditionally, the different costumes help show off the wealth of the person staging a procession; like Swiss Guard and high vestments of the Pope. Recently, in the history of May Day rallies throughout the world, on May 1, 2006 millions of illegal immigrants marched in the cities of the U.S.A. to protest and to have a path to legalize their status. While the fireworks illuminate procession parades and different occasions, the aircraft flyover makes a spectacular scene in the sky.
Processions are used to mark the beginning or end of an event, such as parades at the beginning of festivals or at the Olympic Games, or the processions, which begin and end funerals, graduations, and weddings. People throughout the world, watched the live coverage of the large funeral procession of the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. In Goa every ten years, we have another world famous event, the exposition of the relics of St. Francis Xavier, which begins and ends with the procession, from Born Jesus Basilica to Se Cathedral and back. Today, most people are familiar with dispensing of gifts at the end of the procession like Rosaries, holy pictures, other souvenirs.
Processions are also the display of power, such as ancient Roman triumphs, the durbar processions of India and modern reviewing of the troops by generals and heads of state. The symbolic processions were an important tool in India during the nonviolent protests of Mahatma Gandhi, the spectacular Republic day parade at New Delhi and now-a-days the display of power, such as ancient Roman triumphs, the durbar processions of India and modem reviewing of the troops by generals and heads of state. The symbolic processions were an important tool in India during the nonviolent protests of Mahatma Gandhi, the spectacular Republic day parade at New Delhi and now—a-days the political road shows and rallies. Processions play an important role in coronationS, such as that of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1953. The religious ceremonies have since prehistory employed the procession of holy objects to inspire solidarity of belief and the victory celebrations. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament are a powerful and popular expression of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Many places throughout the world where different processions are held at the conclusion of the feast mass along with the images of Saints, as the Corpus Christi celebrated in all the parishes throughout the world. After the council of Vienna (1311-1312) held during the pontificate of Pope Clement V. the city of Rome decided to make the celebration public and increasing the solemnity of Corpus Christi by carrying in processions the relics of the Saints, from that time the images of Saints are carried in the procession of Corpus Christi. In Peru, fifteen images of Saints are paraded through the streets, from different parishes to the Cathedral of Cusco, to celebrate the feast of “Senor de Los Temblores” on Corpus Christi day. In Hawaii, the descendents of Portuguese immigrants in Honolulu lead a “procession of Saints” on the feast day of Pentecost with 30 images of Saints between one and for three feet in size, along with the replica of the crown of Queen Elizabeth of Portugal. This is a century old tradition of the society. In Mexico, “Procession of Saints” also held during the Titular fiesta of Santiago, and during the June festival surrounding villages lead their patron Saints to Lake Chapala for nine days in processions in the morning and evening.
The Holy week processions are held throughout the world. In the Philippines, San Francisco parish Bicolandia,Good Friday procession goes through the streets followed by the images of Saints. in Aguador, a Holy Wednesday procession is Led through the streets with the image of Jesus Christ followed by about ten images of Saints, in Marinduque, a procession of Saints is involved in the passion and death of Christ. in Ponta Delgada Sao Miguel Island of Portugal, thousands of pilgrims march behind the image of Jesus Christ (Ecce Homo) for the three-hour procession along the flower decorated streets. In Seville-Spain, during the Holy week procession of the Passion of Christ, penitents carrying Crosses on their shoulder behind the image of Jesus, followed by the Costaleros (members ofconfraria) carry the images of Saints. In Venezuela, from January 14, until Palm Sunday, the image of Mother of Jesus, the divine Shepherdess, passes by the capital’s 44 shrines, the largest procession in the country.
All Saints day is celebrated by Catholics throughout the world in their parishes by having processions, carrying images of Saints and in different ways. In the city of St. Louis-Missouri, family celebrations arc held with costume party games, with children dressed and portraying models and acting the lives of Saints either with spoken parts or by narration, in Chcago during the celebration of the Saints day, the service opens with a procession of the images of Saints from around the world, which art students created. While in Rome on November 1, 1999 after the Holy Mass Marisa Rossi went into ecstasy and saw marvellous scenes one following another, first she saw a long procession of Saints who preceded Jesus and Our Lady surrounded by myriads of Angels (under investigation).
Some religious Orders also celebrated the ‘Saints day’ of their Order, as Franciscans celebrate the teats all aims of their Seraphic Order on November 29. While, here there are few other processions on different days with the images of Saints, in the U.S.A, Fresco Diocese California celebrates on second Sunday of September the feast of Our Lady of Miracles followed by the “procession of Saints”. In South Philadelphia, “procession of Saints” is led through the streets by a marching band during the “Bella Vista Fiesta” in the month of May. In Wilmington- Delaware, “St. Anthony’s Italian festival”, is on the final day of the festival and a “procession of Saints” is led through the streets of the parish with about 12 images of Saints. In the Philippines, on the second Sunday of October there is a procession of Virgin Mary of La Naval, which goes through the streets with 12 images of Dominican Saints. The processions on the feast day of St. Patrick and St. Brigid are very popular in Ireland.
Processions appear in contrasting art form at different places in the world, and the centuries old art works of many artists still can be seen. A painting by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, displays a romanticized Roman procession, while his Finding of Moses shows an heir of the Pharaoh proceeding to the palace with her entourage. The funeral procession of Elizabeth I of England is portrayed in the film Orlando. The procession of Prince Au in the Disney film Aladdin allows the hero to show off his newfound prestige. Painting by Benozzo Gozzoli, in the chapel, Palazzo Medici-Recardi, Florence Italy displays the procession of Magus Baithazar and Melchior. In RavennaV enice Italy, the Basilica of St. Apollinare Nuovo, portrays the processions of Saints leading to Jesus seated on a throne and the Three Magi offering gifts to Mother Mary. In St. Peter’s Basilica, the colonnades and corridors are surmounted by 162 images of Saints after design by Bernini.
Parades arranged purely for fun, such as those of community organizations and friendly societies are popular in Great Britain and the United States of America. Today, many parades arc sponsored by big departmental stores similar to the one in Times Square in New York. Like the spectacular floats of Carnival parades in Brazil and many other countries, in Goa we have the Sigmo festivals, the traditional ‘Bonderam’ festival at Divar, the celebration of “Sao Joao”, a colorful boat parade held in Siolim village, and four days of Carnival parades in many villages and cities. On February 14, throughout the world people celebrate a romantic theme “Valentine’s day” with dances, parties and parades, which are named in honor of St. Valentine, and in Dublin the martyr’s relics lead the procession through the streets. Parades may be staged simply to show off the costumes, such as at fashion shows, and the competitive events like the beauty pageant Miss Universe and Miss World. Rome is the home for the processions, as there are many different processions throughout the year, but it does not have the procession of Saints like the one in Goa. Here in Goa the procession of Saints is an exclusively unique event in the world, as an outstanding and specific celebration for the Lenten season, as the object of the procession is a penitential practice and presentation of the history and life ofthe Saints as models before the people.
The fifth Monday of the Lent
On the fifth Monday of Lent, after Passion Sunday, every year thousands of people flock to Goa-Velha village from different parts of Goa, from neighbouring states, tourists and now-a-days people from this village and neighbouring villages who reside in many other countries come down for a vacation during the procession of Saints as this is a unique tradition. It takes about a week to prepare all the artistic images of Saints for this great penitential event, all the preparation of artistic work is carried out by a few of the villagers, presently they are: Roque D’souza, Jacque Gonsalves, Augusto Mendes (Alvaro) and his Sons Teodore Mendes and Aifredo Mendes. In the earlier days many villagers used to work together to touch-up all these centuries old artistic images of Saints for this great day, but they are no more. On Monday, when all the images are prepared and mounted on the charols (tableaux), they all set them in order according to the number of the charols inside the St. Andrew’s Church, and the ‘Holy Face’ of Jesus Christ is set in the center of the Church on a small table.
In the evening at around 4:00 pm, the Church bells keep on ringing and the village youth choir goes on singing in their melodious voices. The outdoor main Eucharistic celebration begins in the Church Square every year with a different theme. After the holy celebration by sundown, the images are brought out in order from the main door of St. Andrew’s Church, and go and stop one by one in front of the outdoor altar, while the priest reads out the history and the life of the Saints to the faithful. Then, the images are taken around the square year with a different theme. After the holy celebration by sundown, the images are brought out in order from the main door of St. Andrew’s Church, and go and stop one by one in front of the outdoor altar, while the priest reads out the history and the life of the Saints to the faithful. Then, the images are taken around the square; proceed out on the street road and then some of the devotees follow behind each charol. The first charol is the Tau and the crossed arms, symbol of the Franciscan order. This leads the prqcssion followcd by all other images on the charols shouldered by the confraria members of the Churci 1ast’cIiaioI i Image of St. Francis of Assisi seeing a vision of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified. The procession ends with the ‘Veil of Veronica’ that is carried by the priest in his hands and covered by a canopy and guarded by the confraria members. Throughout the procession, all the devotees pray the Rosary and the youth choir follows each decade of the Rosary by singing hymns.
As the procession marching on the street lanes through the crowd, devotees can be seen ducking under the charols to receive the blessings through the intercession of the Saints and to obtain purification for their confessed sins. The men dressed in the red and white ‘Opa-Murça’ can be seen heavily sweating while carrying each heavy charol and have a very difficult time to pass through the crowd until they reach on the highway. All four of them each carries a resting wooden bar (“Y” shape) for emergency and regular stops. When they reach on the highway all the traffic stops as a sign of respect to the holy models, (but now, due to heavy and peak hours of the traffic, one way is kept open). It takes about two hours to pass the highway until they reach the Batim-Merces road and then it goes on smoothly, a little ahead it takes a left turn to the Church street road and then straight to the Church compound, while the people queue along the route and pass under the charols.
At the end of the procession, the charols are arranged in the Church Square in a semi-circle and rested on the wooden bar and all the Confraria members stand-by and a priest gives a sermon to the faithful. Most of the villagers from this village gather at this time; after the sermon all the images of the Saints are taken back inside to the St. Andrew’s Church and kept in order for three days for public veneration.The evening atmosphere is a completely family affair. Every family has several guests as people come out in formal clothes as for a typical Church feast in Goa. The people walk in the fair, buy traditional sweets (Kazem:adeo-bodeo, ladu, kapam, alvo, reudio, chonne, etc.). The roads are lined-up with stalls selling everything from sweets to clothes to hOuschId items. Some people especially come here to buy hand-fans made out of roots and herbs locally called “Bonavoto avno” These fans are traditionally used in the summer season for medicinal fragrance ofair. The people wait here until late night. The next day after the morning masses, the veneration of the Holy Models begins.