Corpus Christi Processions
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates what is known as the Feast of Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam) 10 days after Whitsun, and 60 days after Easter Sunday. Marked as an official public holiday in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North-Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland, the Feast of Corpus Christi centres around large processions honouring the blessed sacrament.
See the Feast of Corpus Christi
The procession usually follows a path lined by small birch trees, as the town streets are covered with fresh grass and a carpet of flowers. Parishioners carry jewelled statues of the Virgin Mary and saints during the parade as well as processional crosses and banners.
Depending on the region, the processions are then either accompanied by musicians, groups of traditional mountain marksmen or cannoneers. Families in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, for example, dress in traditional attire and join the procession through the town before returning to church for a communion service.
The History behind Corpus Christi
The Feast of Corpus Christi is said to have been inspired by visions of Jesus experienced by Belgian canoness Juliana of Liège (1193-1252). The visions reminded her that there was no special feast day for the blessed sacrament and she subsequently applied to Pope Urban IV for a celebration dedicated to the Holy Eucharist, or the "Corpus Christi", the body of Christ.
Attend a Corpus Christi procession
To this day, the Fronleichnamprozession is still seen as a symbolic embodiment of contemporary Bavarian Christianity.
Although some of the most famous Feast of Corpus Christi processions take place in more rural communities outside Germany's major cities, processions can also be seen in cities such as Munich and Frankfurt. The Feast of Corpus Christi processions usually begin early in the morning, so plan your visit accordingly if you don’t want to miss out on witnessing these magnificent processions.