Q: Our parish has a custom of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday after the evening Mass. Some people travel in a carpool to seven churches for a short “visit” and others just stay in our church to pray. We conclude with Night Prayer. No one knows what the origin of this custom is and some people feel it would be better to stay in one church for extended prayer rather than driving from place to place. Do you know how this custom developed? What are your thoughts?
A: I am familiar with the custom, but I do not know where or when it originated. There are some countries where it remains popular.
The missal does not mention it, so I’m concluding that it prefers the option of staying for extended prayer in one place, as Jesus asked the disciples to do in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I imagine that the custom began among people wanting to see pretty decorations in neighboring churches, but I have not seen a study on it.