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Monday, 15 June 2009

Blessed Sacrament Procession, Toledo

Each year, at Toledo, there are two Blessed Sacrament Processions, one on the feast day and another on the following Sunday. These are major occasions, with any people travelling specially. The Cathedral is packed for both processions. During the procession, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in the "Custodia de Arfe", the monstrance crafted by Enrique de Arfe who was in fact German, (from near Cologne). It is constructed in silver (presumably gilt) and houses a smaller inner monstrance made of gold, which belonged to Isabella of Castile. The work was completed in 1524.

Many thanks to a correspondent in Spain for sending some information about this year's processions, and links to some YouTube clips. In the first video, you can see a part of the procession which includes a ceremonial armed guard:



The second video is shown towards the end of the procession as the Blessed Sacrament is carried towards the High Altar.



The Sunday procession was also chosen by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera for his final farewell to Toledo. He gave a farewell speech and his successor, Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, then took over and led the procession.


There is a lot of noise with people clapping, shouting, a brass band playing, soldiers marching in step, and shouted commands (I think) from time to time. Not terribly British, one might think, but I wonder whether this is what the medieval processions were like in merrie England. It also occurred to me while watching the clips that the applause, like that often heard in Rome, is different from applause in a British (or American) context.

Our clapping is usually given to applaud an individual performance or to congratulate someone. We're saying "Jolly good show!" The continental applause seems to be more like an overflowing of joy, praise and devotion.
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