More than 75 churches across the five counties of the Diocese of Allentown will be open late into the evening on Holy Thursday, part of an ancient ritual that offers the opportunity for a mini pilgrimage of prayer.
Visiting other churches on Holy Thursday is a chance to spend quiet time before the Most Blessed Sacrament at one of the holiest times of the year. It is a great family tradition to start, or to continue.
On Holy Thursday, parish priests celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, when Catholics remember the Passover Meal at which Jesus shared bread and wine with His disciples, saying “Do this in memory of Me.”
Following the Mass, there is a procession with the Holy Eucharist to a temporary altar, where the Most Blessed Sacrament is placed in a vessel called a repository. The faithful then spend time in prayer and adoration.
This is when the visitation of other churches begins. The faithful journey to nearby churches – seven if they can manage it, but fewer is okay too – to visit the Altar of Repose and spend a few minutes in prayer.
The tradition is said to have begun in ancient times when Catholics traveled on this night to the seven basilicas of Rome.
The Holy Thursday church visitation also is a time when Catholics can keep a late-evening vigil, remembering that Jesus asked His disciples to stay awake with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest.
Plan your Holy Thursday church visits now. For a list of parishes and visitation hours, click here.