Dubuque area parishes welcome Holy Thursday pilgrims

Students among those who ‘kept watch’ with Jesus

By Rhonda Miska
Witness Correspondent

DUBUQUE — “Could you not remain one hour and keep watch?”

These words of Jesus to his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane have inspired a tradition to “keep watch” in eucharistic adoration after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night. The Mass concludes with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to an altar of repose where the faithful can remain in prayerful vigil into the night.

The pilgrimage practice most likely originated in Rome where there are seven basilicas and pilgrims for centuries have visited all seven on the first day of the Triduum. In many cities in Latin America, the faithful process through the streets singing as they walk from church to church.  In the Philippines the practice is known as Visita Iglesia and many churches there are kept open until midnight.

The ancient practice of “staying awake with Christ” on Holy Thursday night is alive in the Archdiocese of Dubuque as well. Eight Dubuque-area parishes – ­Cathedral/St. Patrick, St. Anthony, St. Joseph (Key West), Resurrection, Nativity, St. Columbkille, St. Joseph the Worker and Holy Spirit – hosted a second annual Holy Thursday pilgrimage on Thursday, March 24.

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