The Blessed Sacrament procession is held daily at 4.30pm. The procession begins at the open-air altar in the Prairie, and is usually led by a priest or bishop carrying a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. Typically the bearer of the Blessed Sacrament is sheltered from the elements by a mobile awning carried by four assistants. The exact order of the procession varies from time to time. The Blessed Sacrament may be preceded by bearers carrying leafy branches, incense burners or other devotional items. These bearers are usually lay people who may be invited specially. The Blessed Sacrament is usually followed by a group of priests who con-celebrate the rite. Following these are groups of pilgrims, usually under a group banner, and in no particular order, although larger groups tend to dominate the procession near the front.
The procession makes its way across the Gave, alongside the ramps, and past the Crowned Statue, along the Esplanade to the Cross at the far end, and then around it, and down into the Underground Basilica (where participants may be seated). Pilgrims in wheelchairs are brought to the front in each case. During the procession there are meditations, prayers, hymns and chants, in several languages. When all the participants have assembled, there follows a period of Eucharistic Adoration, and the Blessing of the Sick.
The Torchlight Marian Procession takes place daily at 8.45 pm. It begins outside the Grotto and follows the same route as the Blessed Sacrament Procession. In extreme weather an indoor ceremony may be held in the Underground Basilica instead. The procession is led by pilgrims bearing a replica of the Cabuchet Statue of the Virgin Mary. As before, groups usually proceed together under their group banner. Most participants carry a candle with a paper shade which diffuses the light and makes the candle less likely to blow out.
The focus of this procession is the rosary. All five decades are recited, usually in a variety of languages. The Lourdes Hymn is also sung, with verses in different languages. Intercessions may be invoked followed by the Laudate Mariam. There is a final blessing in Latin, and then an invitation to exchange the Sign of peace with fellow pilgrims.
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