In this litany seven processions, of clergy, laymen, monks, nuns, matrons, the poor, and children respectively, starting from seven different churches, proceeding to hear mass at Sta Maria Maggiore (see Greg. of Tours, Hist. Fr. x.1, and Johann. Diac. Vito Greg. Magn. i. 42). This litany has often been confused with the litania major, introduced at Rome in 598 (vide supra), but is quite distinct from it.1 .
Funeral processions, accompanied with singing and the carrying of lighted tapers, were very early customary (see LIGHTS, CEREMONIAL USE or), and akin to these, also very early, were the processions connected with the translation of the relics of martyrs from their original burying place to the church where they were to be enshrined (see e.g. St Ambrose, Ep. 2Q and St Augustine, De civitate Dei, xxii. 8 and Conf. viii. 7, for the finding and translation of the relics of Saints Gervasius and Protasius). From the time of the emperor Constantine I. these processions were of great magnificence?
Some liturgists maintain that the early Church in its processions followed Old Testament precedents, quoting such cases 0, -ggi, of as the procession of the ark round the walls of Cbriflifm Jericho (]osh. vi.), the procession of David with the P"°°'”'°“" ark (2 Sam. vi.), the processions of thanksgiving on the return from captivity, &c. The liturgy of the early Church as Duchesne shows (Origines, ch. i.) was influenced by that of the Jewish synagogue, but the theory that the Church adopted the Old Testament ritual is of quite late growth. What is certain is that certain festivals involving processions were adopted by the Christian Church from the pagan calendar of Rome. Here we need only mention the litanioe majores et mirzores, which are stated by Usener (“ Alte Bittgiinge, " in Zeller, Philosophische Aufsiilze, p. 278 seq.) to have been first instituted by Pope Liberius (352-366). It is generally acknowledged that they are the equivalent of the Christian Church of the Roman lust rations of the crops in spring, the Ambarvalia, &c. The litania major, or great procession on St Mark's day (April 25) is shown to coincide both in date and ritual with the Roman Robigalia, which took place a.d. Kal. M ai., and consisted in a procession leaving Rome by the F laminian gate, and proceeding by way of the Milvian bridge to a~ sanctuary at the 5th milestone of the Via Claudia, where the jlamen quiriualis sacrificed a dog and a sheep to avert blight (robigo) from the crops (Fasli praerzestini, C.T.L.T., p. 317). The Zitania major followed the same route as far as the Milvian bridge, when it turned off and returned to St Peter's, where mass was celebrated. This was already established as an annual festival by 598, as is shown by a document of Gregory the Great (Regist. ii.) which inculcates the duty of celebrating litoriiam, quae major ab omnibus appellatur. The lilaniae minores or rotations, held on the three days preceding Ascension Day, were first introduced into Gaul by Bishop Mamertus of Vienne (c. 470), and made binding for all Gaul by the 1st Council of Orleans (511), The litaniae minores were also adopted for these three days in Rome by Leo III. (c. 800). A description of the institution and character of the Ascensiontide rotations is given by Sidonius Apollinaris (Ep. v. I4). “ The solemnity of these, ” he says, “ was first established by Mamertus. Hitherto they had been erratic, lukewarm and poorly attended (1/agae, teperztes, irzfrequenlesque); those which he instituted were characterized by fasting, prayers, psalms and tears.” In the Ambrosian rite the rotations take place after Ascensiontide, and in the Spanish on the Thursday to Saturday after Whitsuntide, and in November (Synod of Girona, 517).
- Litanies, owing to the fact that they were sung in procession
were in En land sometimes themselves called “ processions.” Thus we reag in the “Order of making Knights of the Bath for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ”: “the parson of the said church knelynge said the procession in Englysche and all that were there answered the parson ” (B. M. Add. MSS. 4712, p. 51, printed in Anstis's Observations, p. 53).
2 See Martigny, Dfict. des antiquités ehr. s.'v. “ Processions ” 7
“ Stations, " “ Translations " for details of processions under Constantine, and Du Cange, s.v. Processzo for various processions in the middle ages.
It is impossible to describe in detail the vast development of processions during the middle ages. The most processions important and characteristic of these still have a 1” 'he place in the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. $3225 The rules governing them are laid down in the (;g¢1,0|1¢ Rituale Romanum (Tit. iX.), and they are classified Chumbin the following way 1-(1)
Processiorzes gerzerales, in which the whole body of the cler takes part. (2) Processiones ordinariae, on yearly festivals, will as the feast of the Purification of the Virgin (Candlemass, q.v.), the procession on Palm Sunday (q.v.), the I/ilaniae majores and minores, the feast of Corpus Christi (q.'v.), and on other days, according to the custom of the churches. (3) Processiones extraordirzariae, or processions ordered on special occasions, e.g. to pray for rain or fine weather, in time of storm, famine, plague, war, or, in guacungue tribulation, processions of thanksgiving, translation of relics, the dedication of a church or cemetery. There are also processions of honour, for instance to meet a royal personage, or the bishop on his first entry into his diocese (Pormf. rom. iii.). Those taking part in processions are to walk bare-headed (weather permitting), two and two, in decent costume, and with reverent mien; clergy and laity, men and women, are to walk separately. The cross is carried at the head of the procession, and banners embroidered with sacred pictures in places where this is customary; these banners must not be of military or triangular shape. Violet is the colour prescribed for processions, except on the Feast of Corpus 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. Where the host is carried in procession it is covered always by a canopy, and accompanied by lights. At the lilaniae majores and minores and other penitential processions, joyful hymns are not allowed, but the litanies are sung, and, if the length of the procession requires, the penitential and gradual psalms. As to the discipline regarding processions the bishop, according to the Council of Trent (Sass. 25 de reg. cap. 6), appoints and regulates processions and public prayers outside the churches. The observance or variation of the discipline belongs to the Congregation of Rites; in pontifical processions, which are regulated by the masters of the ceremonies (magfistri ceremorziarum pormyicalium), these points are decided by the chief cardinal deacon. As to processions within the churches, some difference of opinion having arisen as to the regulating authority, the Congregation of Rites has decided that the bishop must ask, though not necessarily follow, the advice 'of the chapter in their regulation. 1 ~ Reformed Churches.-The Reformation abolished in all Protestant countries those processions associated with the doctrine of transubstantiation (Corpus Christi); “ the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, ” according to the 28th Article of Religion of the Church of England “ was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.” It also abolished those associated with the cult of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. The stern simplicity of Calvinism, indeed, would not tolerate religious processions of any kind, and from the “ Reformed” Churches they vanished altogether. The more conservative temper of the Anglican and Lutheran communions, however, suffered the retention of such processions as did not conflict with the reformed doctrines, though even in these Churches they met with opposition and tended after a while to fall into disuse. The Lutheran practice has varied at different times and in different countries. Thus, according to the Württemberg Kirchenordnung of 1553, a funeral procession was prescribed, the bier being followed by the congrega- Elfzlxgfn tion singing hymns; the Brandenburg Kirclzenardmmg (1540) directed a cross-bearer to precede the procession and lighted candles to be carried, and this was prescribed' also by the Waldeck Kirchenordmmg of 1556. At present funeral processions survive in general only in the country districts; the processional cross or crucifix is still carried. In some provinces also the Lutheran Church has retained the ancient rogation processions in the week before Whitsuntide and, in some cases, in the month of May or on special occasions (e.g. days of humiliation, Busstage), processions about the fields to ask a blessing on the crops. On these occasions the ancient litanies are still used.
In England “ the perambulations of the circuits of the parishes used heretofore in the days of rotations ” were ordered to be observed by the Injunctions of Queen Elizabeth in 1559; and for these processions certain “ psalms, prayers and homilies ”