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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Polish Tradition in Back of the Yards

I don't remember seeing this before today, but apparently it's a Polish tradition to process around the neighborhood on Corpus Christi Sunday (today). I went to Mass at Holy Cross, but walked home down Hermitage past St. Joseph's and found two women who are mainstays at daily Mass putting together a beautiful red-draped altar in front of the rectory. A house across the street had its front porch draped in red banners and posters of Pope John Paul II.

Then I continued down Hermitage to 49th and turned east just as the procession was turning west from Paulina. They led with the image of Our Lady of Czechostowa (also known as "the black Madonna," followed by a huge golden monstrance sheltered by a white silk canopy. They were singing a Polish hymn. Much of the crowd was dressed in traditional costume with bright colors and lots of embroidery. Fr. Ed was in the back of the crowd. The lady who always says hi to me whenever I make it to a weekday morning Mass at St. Joe (rarely of late) saw me and we flashed smiles at each other. She's the reason I learned to say dzien dobry (good day, pronounced jen dough-bray).

This site has pictures of the procession at St. Helen's in another part of Chicago from the late 1990s, plus some illustrations of a traditional procession in Poland and the classic Polish Corpus Christi hymn "Thine Is All Glory" in Polish and English. (I guess that's what they were singing when I met them, but I don't speak Polish so I don't know for sure).

Though surely such processions were much larger back in Upton Sinclair's day, even having one to two hundred people in the street today was a nice reminder of this neighborhood's heritage.

1 comment:

harriet said...

It's not just a Polish tradition. Many Catholic and Episcopal churches do this. It's one of my favorite services of the year to sing. I love walking through the neighborhoods.

Windy Citizen Share