Mayor's show in London is the most conspicuous survival; the processions connected with royal coronations and with court ceremonies generally; the processions of friendly societies, so popular in Great Britain and America; processions organized as a demonstration of political or other opinions; processions forming part of the ceremonies of public worship. In a narrower sense of “going forth, proceeding, ” the term is used in the technical language of theology in the phrase “ Procession of the Holy Ghost, ” expressing the relation of the Third Person in the Triune Godhead to the Father and the Son.
Processions have in all peoples and at all times been a natural form of public celebration, as forming an orderly and impressive way in which a number of persons can take part in some ceremony. They are included in the celebraetions of many religions, Greek and Roman Processions.and in many countries, both in the East and West, they accompany such events as weddings and funerals. Religious and triumphal processions are abundantly illustrated by ancient monuments, e.g. the religious processions of Egypt, those illustrated by the rock-carvings of Boghaz-Keui (see Pteria), the many representations of processions in Greek art, culminating in the great Panathenaic procession of the Parthenon frieze, and Roman triumphal reliefs, such as those of the arch of Titus.
Processions played a prominent part in the great festivals of Greece, where they were always religious in character. The games were either opened or accompanied by more or less elaborate processions and sacrifices, while processions from the earliest times formed part of the worship of the old nature gods (ag. those connected with the cult of Dionysus, &c.), and later formed an essential part of the celebration of the great religious festivals (e.g. the processions of the Thesmophoria, and that of the Great Dionysia), and of the mysteries (e.g. the great procession from Athens to Eleusis, in connexion with the Eleusinia). Of the Roman processions, the most prominent was that of the Triumph, which had its origin in the return of the victorious army headed by the general, who proceeded in great pomp from the Campus to the Capitol to oiier sacrifice, accompanied by the army, captives, spoils, the chief magistrate, priests bearing the images of the gods, amidst strewing of flowers, burning of incense and the like (Ovid, Trist. iv. 2, 3 and 6). Connected with the triumph was the pompa circensis, or solemn procession which preceded the games in the circus; it first came into use at the ludi romani, when the games were preceded by a great procession from the Capitol to the Circus. The praetor or consul who appeared in the pompa circensis wore the robes of a triumphing general (see Mommsen, Staatsrecht I . 397 for the connexion of the triumph with the ludi). Thus, when it became customary for the consul to celebrate games at the opening of the consular year, he came, under the empire, to appear in triumphal robes in the process us consular is, or procession of the consul to the Capitol to sacrifice to Iupiter. After the establishment of Christianity, the consular processions in Constantinople retained their religious character, now proceeding to St Sophia, where prayers and offerings were made; but in Rome, where Christianity was not so widely spread among the upper classes, the tendency was to convert the procession into a purely civil function, omitting the pagan rites and prayers, without substituting Christian .ones (Dahremberg and Saglio, s.v. “ Consul ”). Besides these public processions, there were others connected with the primitive Worship of the country people, which remained unchanged, and were later to influence the worship of the Christian Church. Such were those of the Ambarvalia, Robigalia, &c., which were essentially rustic festivals, lust rations of the fields, consisting in a procession round the spot to be purified, leading the sacrificial victims with prayers, hymns and ceremonies, in order to protect the young crops from evil influences. (See Preller, Rom. Mythologie, pp. 370-372.)
As to the antiquity of processions as part of the ritual of the Christian Church, there is no absolute proof of their existence before the 4th century, but as we know that in the catacombs stations were held at the tombs of the martyrs on the anniversary of their death, for the celebration of the Eucharist, it is quite probable that the faithful proceeded to the appointed spot in some kind of procession, though there is no satisfactory evidence that this was the case. There are, indeed, Processions in the Christian Church. early instances of the use of the word processio by Christian writers, but it does not in any case appear to have the modern meaning “procession.” Tertullian (znd century) uses procession and procedure in the Sense of “ to go out, appear in public, and, as applied to a church function, procession was first used in the same way as collecta, as the equivalent of the Greek σύνάξεσι, i.e. for the assembly of the people in the church (Du Cange, s.v.). In this sense it appears to be used by Pope Leo I. (Ep. IX. ad Diosc. episc. c. 445: “qui nostris processionibus et ordinationibus frequenter interfuit”), while in the version by Dionysius Exiguus of the 17th canon of the Council of Laodicaea σονάξεσι, is translated by processionibus (Smith, Dic. of Chr. Antiq. s.v. “Procession”).
For the processions that formed part of the ritual of the Eucharist, those of the introit, the gospel and the oblation, the earliest records date from the 6th century and even later (see Duchesne, Origines, 2nd ed., pp. 77, 154, 181; 78, 194), but they evidently were established at a much earlier date. As to public processions, these seem to have come into rapid vogue after the recognition of Christianity as the religion of the empire. Those at Terusalem would seem to have been long established when described by the authoress of the Peregrinatio Silviae towards the end of the 4th century (see Palm Sunday, for the procession of palms).
Very early were the processions accompanied by hymns and prayers, known as litaniae (Gr. λιτανεῖα, from λιτή, prayer), rogationes or supplicationes (see Litany). It is to such a procession that reference appears to be made in a letter of St BasilLitanies or Rogations. (c. 375), which would thus be the first recorded mention of a public Christian procession. The first mention for the Western Church occurs in St Ambrose (c. 388, Ep. 40 § 16, Ad Theodos. “monachos . . qui . . . psalmos canentes ex consuetudine usuque veteri pergebant ad celebritatem Machabaeorum martyrum ”). In both these cases the litanies are stated to have been long in use. There is also mention of a procession accompanied by hymns, organized at Constantinople by St John Chrysostom (c. 390–400) in opposition to a procession of Arians, in Sozomen, Hist. eccl. viii. 8. In times of calamity litanies were held, in which the people walked in robes of penitence, fasting, barefooted, and, in later times, frequently dressed in black (litaniae nigrae). The cross was carried at the head of the procession and often the gospel and the relics of the saint were carried. Gregory of Tours gives numerous instances of such litanies in time of calamity; thus he describes (Vita S. Remig. I.) a procession of the clergy and people round the city, in which relics of St Remigius were carried and litanies chanted in order to avert the plague. So, too, Gregory the Great (Ep. xi. 57) writes to the Sicilian bishops to hold processions in order to prevent a threatened invasion of Sicily. A famous instance of these penitential litanies is the litania septiformis ordered by Gregory the Great in the year 590,
when Rome had been inundated and pestilence had followed.
- See De praescr. adv. haer. C. xliii., “ Ubi metus in Deum, ibi gravitas honesta . . . et subjection religiosa, et apparition devota, et procession modesta, et Ecclesia unita et Dei omnia, " where it would seem to mean “ a modest bearing in public; " also De cultu foem. ii., xi., “Vobis autem nulla procedendi caussa tetrica; aut imbecillus aliquis ex fratribus visitandus, aut sacrificium ofiertur, aut Dei verbum administrator, " which shows.that procedefe was not used only of going to church. The passage ad uxorem, ii. 4, which is sometimes quoted to prove the existence of processions at this date, appears to use procedure in the same way as the above passages; “ . . . si procedendum erit, nunquam magis familiae occupation obveniat. Quis enim sinat conjugem suam visitandorum fratrum gratia vicatim aliena ac quidem pauperiora quaeque tuguria circuire? quis denique solemnibus Paschae abnoctantem securus sustinebit? "
- Ep. 207 ad Neocaes: "A)}' mix in/, da-ofrl, -raiiro. é7l't roi) [.LE'Y¢iXOU I'pe')/opiou. 'A))' 0053- ai AL-ral/e'EaL, ds if/.Leis 1/UV é1rL5e6e-re K. 'r. A.
- Brawls having arisen with the Catholics, who began singing their hymns in opposition, the emperor prohibited the Arian meetings.