Early in the morning, the sound of cannon fire wakes the faithful. For the Catholic residents of Innerrhoden, Corpus Christi is known as «Ösehegottstag». Since mediaeval times this feast has honoured the Sacrament of the Altar 10 days after Whitsun. On this day, the most magnificent processions of the year take place in Appenzell and its outlying parishes.
At 06.00 am the centre of Appenzell and the outlying parishes are a hive of activity. The residents are busy decorating their houses with fresh beech foliage and setting up holy images and figures as well as floral decorations.
Provided that the weather is good, the Corpus Christi church service is held in the open at 09.00 am in the inner courtyard of the St. Antonius School. The colourful procession then makes its way to two lavishly decorated stations at the Landsgemeindeplatz (main square) and the Chlos school house. Preceded by further cannon fire, there are then short prayers and readings and the Eucharistic blessing is given. On the route between the stations, the rosary is said.
In each parish, the Corpus Christi procession has its own distinctive characteristics, but at the centre of all of them is the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is taken from the church before the start of the procession.
In Appenzell, the «Grenadiers of the Lord God» in Napoleonic uniforms accompany the monstrance containing the host until the final blessing two hours later in church. The parish priest and the Sacrament are protected by a magnificent baldachin, carried by members of the church council. They are followed by standard bearers of church and secular groups and behind them the flags of the district flutter in the breeze. Local government representatives, the church choir, members of the parish council and pastoral care teams, altar servers, first communicants, scouts, Corpus Christi groups and the Music Society reverently follow the procession. This clear order has been unchanged for generations.
The grandeur of the procession is enhanced by up to a hundred women in traditional feast day costumes and the 15 «Täfelimeedle». These young women wear traditional black and white costumes. The costumes are only worn by unmarried women. Furthermore, they carry painted wooden boards with the 15 joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the rosary.
Appenzell and Gonten, smaller processions also in other Innerrhoder communities
Thursday, 10 days after Whitsun, 30th May 2024