By John-Henry Westen and Steve Jalsevac 

** See LifeSiteNews Special 22 photo essay on the procession at **

Quebec City, Quebec, June 24, 2008 ( – Last Thursday’s 5.1 kilometer (3.2 miles) Eucharistic procession through the streets of Quebec City during the International Eucharistic Congress was called an historic event by the organizers. It has been 40 years since the capital city of what is now one of the most secular, but was once one of the most Catholic, regions in the world has seen such a public manifestation of faith.

  According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, some 25,000 people took part in the procession. Other reports on the numbers varied down to as low as 10,000 but the mass of people in the over one kilometer long line of participants was impressive.

  The procession focused on a modernized, oversize monstrance, or receptacle for the Eucharist, prominently displayed on a platform pulled by a truck. Three Cardinals – Cardinal Jozef Tomko, papal legate to the congress; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City; and Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal – prayerfully accompanied the Blessed Sacrament on the platform as it was driven along the route.
  In addition to thousands of faithful, 40 Cardinals, 250 Bishops and 1,500 priests representing 80 different countries attended the International Eucharist Congress. A large percentage of them walked and prayed in the procession. There were also hundreds of religious sisters, many young, in varied habits who walked along the route where the sight of a nun in full habit has all but disappeared from the landscape not only in Quebec but in most of Canada.

  Observers outside the province have generally not appreciated the significance of the event but faithful Quebec Church leaders have hailed the procession and other events of the Eucharistic Congress as one of the most significant Canadian cultural events in decades.

One of the most striking features of the procession was the reaction of bystanders observing the spectacle of tens of thousands of participants following the Holy Eucharist in union with hundreds of the highest ranking officials in the Catholic Church. 

  Periodically along the route observers knelt in the streets, most balconies contained onlookers and people in bus shelters waited their rides but seemed not to mind the long delay as the procession proceeded. 

  Some elderly people looked on with obvious reminiscence of the days when such processions were a normal feature of life.

  The ark of the New Covenant was carried in procession along the route.  The same ark travelled across Canada prior to the Congress to build momentum for the event.

  From the procession could be heard singing and chanting in many different languages, as groups from various nations clustered together to praise God in their native tongues.

As night fell candles were lit making a vivid picture of the fact the Christians are called to bring the light of Christ to the world.

  The joy of those processing was made evident to the onlookers as groups waved and cheered to them on balconies bringing smiles and reciprocal waves from Quebec City residents.

  The three hour long procession stopped at two symbolic locations before ending at a large outdoor amphitheatre called the Agora in the Old Port area of Quebec. The first stop was at the Saint-François-D’Assise Church, which was the final stop of the procession organized by Jacques Cartier in 1535 to ask the Virgin for help to heal his crew of scurvy. The second stop was at Notre-Dame de Saint-Roch Church, where many sick and disabled people were gathered.

** See LifeSiteNews Special 22 photo essay on the procession at **


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