The COVID-19 pandemic hit right before Easter in 2020. It disrupted a lot of events, activities and traditions we have etched in our lives when it comes to the Lent and Easter season. Churches closed their doors to general public. The Broadway Market scaled down its Easter operations. It is something most of us have never experienced in our lifetime. The last year has been tough for all of us.
As most churches are starting to return to some sense of normalcy in the spring of 2021, Broadway Fillmore Alive (BFA) decided to put together its One Night, Seven Churches self-guided pilgrimage to seven churches in the Buffalo’s Downtown, Broadway-Fillmore/Polonia, and Kaisertown areas partaking in the traditional visitation of the Blessed Sacrament at seven churches on Holy Thursday. This is the fourteenth year BFA has done this. It was a way to introduce people to the tradition and to experience some of the city’s beautiful churches.
Why Holy Thursday? Why seven churches? The Seven Churches Visitation is a tradition that grew out of the time of prayer and adoration following Holy Thursday Mass. At the conclusion of the Mass of the Last Supper, we remember when Jesus asked his disciples to stay and watch with Him while they were in the garden. The Seven Churches visitation is a pilgrimage to various altars of repose, in different churches that correspond to each of the seven places, or stations, that were made by Jesus between the Last Supper to His crucifixion on the cross. The seven stations consist of: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus bound and taken before Annas, Jesus taken before the High Priest, Caiaphas, Jesus taken before Pilate, Jesus taken before Herod, Jesus taken before Pilate again and Jesus given the crown of thorns and led to his crucifixion.
Upon entering each church, pilgrims visit the altar of repose, kneel, make the sign of the cross, and engage in private prayer and adoration.
The origin of the Seven Churches Visitation is typically credited to St. Philip Neri. He and a few friends would gather before dawn and set out on their “Seven Churches Walk”. These pilgrimages were designed to be a counterpoint to the raucous behavior of Carnival. The Walks became very popular and began to attract others.
This year, BFA had to modify its list of seven churches because a couple are not having visitation.
The churches for 2021: St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church, Ss. Columba-Brigid R.C. Church St. Stanislaus R.C. Church, Corpus Christi R.C. Church, Saint Adalbert Baslica, St. John Kanty R.C. Church, and St. Casimir R.C. Church
Churches expect all participants to follow COVID-19 protocols – wearing masking and social distancing.
BFA has also put together a Google Map of all the churches. We have embedded it here, but you can access it on your phone or computer by scanning the QR code or by clicking on this link https://tinyurl.com/1-Night-7-Churches. It could come in handy on Holy Thursday.