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UPDATE: Polish Catholics mark feast of Corpus Christi amid coronavirus

11.06.2020 12:30
Thousands of worshippers took to the streets of towns and villages across Poland in religious processions on Thursday as Roman Catholics marked the feast of Corpus Christi amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A Corpus Christi procession in the southern Polish city of Kraków on Thursday.
A Corpus Christi procession in the southern Polish city of Kraków on Thursday.Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

Some participants were dressed in traditional folk costumes, adding colour to the traditional parades, held on a day which is a public holiday in Poland.

A Corpus Christi procession in the village of Witów in Poland's southern Małopolskie province on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Grzegorz MomotCorpus Christi celebrations in the village of Witów in Poland's southern Małopolskie province on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Momot

While the country has now lifted many of its COVID-19 curbs, a number of Catholic dioceses scaled down the day’s celebrations compared with previous years, state news agency PAP reported.

In Warsaw, the annual Corpus Christi procession followed a shortened route from St. John’s Basilica to the Polish Army Cathedral in the city centre through the picturesque streets of the Polish capital’s historic Old Town district.

Ahead of the holiday, public health officials urged people to don face masks during religious ceremonies and remain two metres away from others to maintain safety.

Crowds attend an annual parade in downtown Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański Crowds attend an annual parade in downtown Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz leads ceremonies in the capital Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz leads ceremonies in the Polish capital. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

The feast of Corpus Christi is one of the oldest in the Catholic Church and has been marked since the 13th century.

During Poland’s often-turbulent history, especially when the nation was under foreign rule for 123 years until 1918, Corpus Christi processions were strongly patriotic as well as religious in flavour.

Girls strew the way with flower petals in a long-standing tradition during a Corpus Christi procession in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański Girls strew the way with flower petals in a long-standing tradition during a Corpus Christi procession in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Poland at the end of last month relaxed face mask rules, and it also allowed public gatherings of up to 150 people as it moved to the next phase of easing its coronavirus lockdown.

The government lifted all restrictions on how many people can gather in places of worship though social distancing guidelines still apply.

On the last Sunday of May, Catholic shrines around the country threw their doors wide open to worshippers after weeks of restrictions amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

A total of 28,201 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease in Poland, with 1,215 deaths from the coronavirus so far, officials said on Thursday morning.

About 93 percent of Poles declare themselves to be Catholics, according to a statistics institute.

(gs)

Source: IAR, PAP