Hundreds of people gathered at San Fernando Cathedral Sunday for a procession celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi. Now celebrated for the fourth consecutive year in downtown San Antonio, the annual event is a Catholic celebration of the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The procession centered around Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, who carried the monstrance, the gilded transparent receptacle for the Eucharist underneath a canopy held on four sides by members of the Knights of Columbus.
"We do the honor guard for the Archbishop," said Joe Rodriguez, the Knights of Columbus district master for Our Lady of Guadalupe. "The main focus is that people understand the meaning of [the procession], that's the Body of Christ. He died for our sins, we have sins, and we are going to commit sins. This respects that."
While colorful flower petals fluttered through the air and trumpets sounded to the march's movements, the essence of the procession remained fixated on the Eucharist.
"It’s a little bit of heaven," said Sylvia Stewart, a parishioner of St. Luke Catholic Church. "I don’t care what the temperature is like because I can only imagine our Lord Jesus being on the cross for three hours for us. We're letting everyone know that we are Catholics, and we are happy to be Catholics."
The practice dates back hundreds of years in the Catholic church's tradition. Pope Francis led a procession in the Vatican on Sunday, marking the first year that holiday was celebrated on a Sunday, according to a report from the Catholic Publication Aleteia. The Pope deviated from the tradition of celebrating on Thursday due to the alignment with the Italian liturgical calendar and the mass appeal of marching on a weekend, the report said.
Moments of reflection and prayer occasionally stopped the procession, which concluded at the San Francesco Di Paola Church at Piazza Italia, west of downtown.
"The idea of contributing and being part of it just gave me a lift to my life that I’ve really never experienced before," said Gregory L. Tatum, a former district master for the Knights of Columbus and a faithful navigator for the Knights of Peter Claver. "To actually march and have the Archbishop going with you from place to place and seeing people stop and making the sign of the cross – to me it was touching because it was heartfelt."