Ryerson Catholics will visit seven churches in one night for eucharistic adoration. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Adorers hit city streets

  • April 18, 2014

On Holy Thursday, Oriana Bertucci enjoys carrying out a centuries-old tradition through the modern-day city streets of Toronto.

Bertucci is the director at Ryerson University’s Catholic Chaplaincy. For the fifth time in the archdiocese and third time downtown, she has organized Travelling Adoration where the faithful visit seven of the city’s churches in one night.

The custom was born in the Apostolic Age where early Christians visited shrines that were deemed holy by the Passion of the Christ, said Bertucci, adding that in 313 the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity as the state religion.

As an extension of that tradition, “in the fourth century, pilgrims began to visit seven basilicas in Rome and in the 1300s, Pope Boniface XIII reinstated the unique tradition,” she said. “Today they still do this in Rome.”

Continuing in the spirit of visiting seven different altars of repose in Roman basilicas, the faithful will visit seven altars in Toronto. Typically, after Holy Thursday Mass, parishes offer a time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

This year, the itinerary for the night of April 17 was to take local pilgrims to St. Michael’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Basilica, St. Thomas More (the Anglican Ordinariate housed in Sacre Coeur parish), Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Patrick’s, St. Basil’s and St. Thomas Aquinas chapel at the Newman Centre.

“You get to see parishes you’d probably never go into,” Bertucci said.

In Rome, pilgrims can walk between sites. In Toronto, participants can also drive or take public transportation.

Activities were to begin at 7 p.m. with dinner at St. Michael’s Cathedral parish hall, and end at midnight.

“It’s nice to gather together on Holy Thursday in honour of the last supper, for us to gather together and to break bread,” said Bertucci, “and then there’s also the practical reason, before we go out and pray to be well fed.”

She was first introduced to Travelling Adoration when she lived in the Archdiocese of St. Louis in Missouri where it’s a very common Holy Thursday practice.

“Our faith is meant to be lived in community,” she said.

Large groups of people and families would partake in the annual ritual in St. Louis, and when Bertucci came back to Canada, she and some friends decided the event would be a good fit in Toronto. First she organized Travelling Adoration at St. Joseph’s parish in Mississauga and now out of the Ryerson Catholic Chaplaincy with students.

Bertucci recalls a parishioner at St. Joseph’s who was happy to hear of Travelling Adoration in Canada.

“He had not done it in 20 years and he was really excited to participate because it took him back to his childhood because this was something he did with his family,” she said.

At Ryerson, she says it’s an opportunity to recognize as a group that the celebration of Easter is not just Easter Sunday.

“It’s the beauty of the Triduum that we enter on Holy Thursday, we move through the darkness of Good Friday and we have the joy of the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil,” she said. “It’s nice to move in prayer in a group, to share that opportunity in community.”

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