On the 20th, the small mountain village of Maalula was celebrating the Corpus Christi, the real presence of the Christ in the Eucharist, usually more celebrated in the western world.
Nevertheless, here in the north of Damascus, this tradition is well alive, and the fronts of the village’s houses have put their best effort for the occasion. In the main street, crowded tables with icons of Mar Charbel the Christ and the Virgin Mary flourish in front of the villages’ houses. The villagers stand next to their creations with pride in that day that they would not miss for anything. An agitation as we rarely see around shakes the village up as buses filled with schoolkids and fellow Christians from the valley gather in Maalula. The men are wearing their best suits and the women wear their mantilla normally reserved for the most important events.
This spree leads to an unusual gathering in the forecourt of the church of Saint George. A native of Maalula, now priest in Montreal, came back specially for this occasion. The singing of the dozens of children gathered lightens the crowded church.
In the streets, a group of young girls wearing their school uniforms or wearing blue dresses with angels’ wings precedes a virgin Mary banner. The priest presents to the believers the body of the Christ in a monstrance. A crowd gathers and follows the body of the Christ through the village’s little streets in that sweet evening of June. From church to church, from house to house, the procession moves on singing religious canto and praying in front of the home-made altars erected along its path.
This long procession will continue until it’s dark, accompanied by the throws of roses’ petals, by the children’s singing relayed by the people gathered and by the fully flying ringing bells of all the village churches.
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