The Times We Lived In: Faithful follow the Corpus Christi procession

Published June 11th or 14th 1982. Photograph by Eddie Kelly

Part of the Corpus Christi procession from the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mourne Road, Drimnagh in June 1982.Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Part of the Corpus Christi procession from the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mourne Road, Drimnagh in June 1982.Photograph: Eddie Kelly

 

It’s not so long since the Corpus Christi procession was one of Ireland’s most cherished Catholic traditions. It was also an annual marker of the arrival of summer, with houses, towns and people all getting a lick of paint and a bit of a polish in honour of the occasion.

Today’s photograph was taken at the 1982 Corpus Christi procession from the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel on Mourne Road, Drimnagh.

In theological terms the procession represents a veneration of the Blessed Sacrament, which is placed in a monstrance held aloft by a member of the clergy. This aspect of the event is not visible in our photo; but the shot does capture the festival’s odd mixture of celebration and solemnity.

The festive bunting strung from the houses - in papal colours, presumably - suggests a street party. The demeanour of those taking part, however, is strikingly subdued. There’s even a special Corpus Christi walk: eyes down, hands respectfully clasped at the waist. (And respect to the ladies in the picture, because it’s not easy to manage your handbag while walking this way).

You can almost hear the hush as the procession makes its way along the quiet Dublin road.

At first glance this eye-catching image looks older than its 40 years, reflecting Ireland’s spirituality in the “rare auld times”. But it also contains a hint of spiritual change to come. On the far side of the street, two young lads are walking in the opposite direction to the procession. They don’t look as if they’ve been to Mass, and they aren’t taking any notice of the mass of people to their right, either.

It will be interesting to see how Pope Francis negotiates the space between Ireland’s increasingly divergent spiritual currents on his visit to Ireland later this month. He seems, in any case, like a man who’d choose a joyful boogie over the Corpus Christi walk - any day of the week.

These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, The Times We Lived In, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.

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