CHARLOTTE — The 2012 Eucharistic Procession drew thousands of Catholics from across the Diocese of Charlotte. The spectacular procession takes the Blessed Sacrament from St. Peter Church to the Charlotte Convention Center, where the Eucharist is placed at the center of worship and attention throughout the two-day Congress.
Who's who in the Eucharistic Procession
CHARLOTTE — Besides clergy, religious and first communicants, a variety of lay persons likewise had official places for the Eucharistic and Mass processions at the 2012 Eucharistic Congress. They are members of charitable associations that defend the mission of the Church and provide for the needs of the poor.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an ecclesiastical order directly under the Holy Father that "was started at the Crusades when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was under attack," member Michael Balbirnie of St. Matthew Church in Charlotte explained. Today, they still defend the Catholic identity of the Holy Land through financial contributions.
Knights and ladies of this order wear capes featuring a thick red "Jerusalem cross," which has four miniature crosses in each corner of the main cross. The men's capes are cream-colored, and the women's capes are black. Each member wears an accompanying headpiece: a mantilla for the women and a beret for the men.
The Order of Malta is likewise comprised of both men and women. Jerry Schmitt of St. Peter Church in Charlotte explained that the order's mission to "practice and defend the Catholic faith and practice charity toward neighbor, especially the poor and sick."
The habit of the Knights and dames of Malta consists of a black robe with thick white cuffs and collar. Prominently displayed on the chest of the robe is a red Maltese cross, a cross that separates to two points on each leg.
More familiar to many Catholics are the Knights of Columbus, who wield swords and plumed chapeaus and whose mission it is to protect the Blessed Sacrament. They did this during the congress by standing guard at all Eucharistic processions both outside and inside the Charlotte Convention Center, at the Adoration chapel, and during distribution of Holy Communion at Mass. On a larger scale, the Knights' mission is primarily charity, both locally and globally, and support of the pro-life cause.
Ornate military-style garb is the trademark of the Knights of Columbus regalia. White, yellow and purple plume chapeaus (hats) paired with red, white, green, purple and yellow capes denote a Knight's position and rank within the order. Only men are invested as Knights of Columbus.
Lastly, the processions of the Eucharistic Congress included a small number of Catholic Daughters of the Americas, a charitable organization of women founded in 1903 by the Knights of Columbus. Their academic-style robes feature the same color combinations as their founders and include further position designations as embroidered symbols on the left arm.
— Mary B. Worthington, correspondent. Photos by SueAnn Howell, Doreen Sugierski and Bill Washington.
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