The Corpus Christi procession in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in photos

Various troops of Trinidad Sea Scouts enter the forecourt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain for the 2023 Corpus Christi celebrations. All photos in this post are by Janine Mendes-Franco, used with permission.

The Roman Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the real presence of the body of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, is traditionally marked in Trinidad and Tobago (and many other places around the world) with Mass followed by a procession. Trinidad and Tobago is, however, just one of 18 countries that still holds the feast day — annually on the second Thursday after Whitsun — as a national holiday.

While various Roman Catholic parishes across the country continue the procession tradition, the largest takes place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which sits at the eastern end of Independence Square in the heart of the capital city. This was the first year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that in-person celebrations were allowed to be conducted in this way, and there was a large turnout that included parishioners, primary and secondary school students and, as is customary, an honour guard formed by various troops of Trinidad Sea Scouts, Girl Guides and Cub Scouts.

Holy Mass, which was celebrated by Archbishop Jason Gordon, took place in the forecourt of the cathedral. After the service, the Blessed Sacrament was housed in the monstrance and transported through the streets of Port of Spain while the faithful sang, danced, and recited the rosary.

On the return to the cathedral, participants were gifted with seedlings, as Corpus Christi is also a traditional day of planting in Trinidad and Tobago. Not only does the day coincide with the start of the country's rainy season, but it is said that anything planted on this day will thrive.

Clockwise from left: The facade of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain; members of the 11th Trinidad Sea Scouts, connected to Fatima College, flank both sides of the entrance to the cathedral.

Clockwise from top left: The liturgical procession enters the forecourt of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain; a Sea Scout stands by the flag of Vatican City; Archbishop Jason Gordon with the Blessed Sacrament under a canopy as the street procession is about to begin; members of the 1st Trinidad Sea Scouts, the oldest troop in the country, connected to the College of the Immaculate Conception.

Clockwise from top left: The procession makes it way across Brian Lara Promenade and up Henry St. in the heart of the city; lay ministers and altar servers carry the processional cross; flower girls from some of the country's Roman Catholic secondary schools throw rose petals as they walk; the mobile Blessed Sacrament; more altar servers.

A woman in a vibrant headscarf sings as she marches with the procession.

Clockwise from top left: Mounted police officers look on at the procession; the entrance to Chinatown; the exterior of another Catholic Church, Holy Rosary; Picadilly Street, which borders the East Dry River in Port of Spain; the home of All Stars Steel Orchestra, taken from across the river.

Policemen await the arrival of the procession in front of a beautifully restored house on the corner of Picadilly Street.

The large procession winds its way around Piccadilly Street, on the eastern side of the city.

An abandoned shopping cart leans on the wall of one of the housing communities along Nelson Street in Port of Spain.

Clockwise from top: An example of a typical urban dry goods store, where the owners of the business live right above their shop; another such structure, taken from below; the new home of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, one of the oldest and most respected steelbands in the country; a rear view of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception featuring a statue of St. Joseph.

Clockwise from right: The inside of the cathedral after the procession; exterior beauty shots of the cathedral.

A cup of seedlings distributed after the Mass.

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