PROCESS ENGRAVING: see PHOTO-ENGRAVING. PROCESSION, in general, an organized body of people ad vancing in formal or ceremonial manner (M. Eng. processioun, Fr. procession, Lat. processio, from procedere, to go forth, ad vance, proceed). This definition covers a wide variety of such progresses: the mediaeval pageants, of which the Lord Mayor's show in London is the most conspicuous survival ; the processions connected with court ceremonies ; those organized to demon strate political or other opinions ; processions forming part of the ceremonies of public worship. In a narrower sense of "going forth, proceeding," the term is used in the technical language of theol ogy in the phrase "Procession of the Holy Ghost," expressing the relation of the Third Person in the Triune Godhead to the Father and the Son.
Processions played a prominent part in the great festivals of Greece, where they were always religious in character. The games were either opened or accompanied by more or less elabo rate processions and sacrifices, while processions from the earliest times formed part of the worship of the old nature gods (e.g., those connected with the cult of Dionysus, etc.), and later formed an essential part of the celebration of the great religious festivals (e.g., the processions of the Thesrnophoria, and that of the Great Dionysia), and of the mysteries (e.g., the great procession from Athens to Eleusis, in connection with the Eleusinia).
Of the Roman processions, the most prominent was that of the triumph, which had its origin in the return of the victorious army headed by the general, who proceeded in great pomp from the Campus to the Capitol to offer sacrifice, accompanied by the army, captives, spoils, the magistrate and priests bearing the images of the gods, amidst strewing of flowers, burning of in cense and the like (Ovid, Trist. iv. 2, 3 and 6). Connected with the triumph was the pompa circensis, or solemn procession which preceded the games in the circus; it first came into use at the Judi romani, when the games were preceded by a great procession from the capitol to the circus. The praetor or consul who ap
peared in the pompa circensis wore the robes of a triumphing general (see Mommsen, Staatsrecht I., 397, for the connection of the triumph with the //di). Thus, when it became customary for the consul to celebrate games at the opening of the consular year, he came, under the empire, to appear in triumphal robes in the processus consularis, or procession of the consul to the Capitol to sacrifice to Jupiter. After the establishment of Chris tianity, the consular processions in Constantinople retained their religious character, now proceeding to St. Sophia, where prayers and offerings were made; but in Rome, where Christianity was not so widely spread among the upper classes, the tendency was to convert the procession into a purely civil function, omitting the pagan rites and prayers, without substituting Christian ones (Dahremberg and Saglio, s.v. ."Consul"). Besides these public processions, there were others connected with the primitive wor ship of the country people, which remained unchanged, and were later to influence the worship of the Christian Church. Such were those of the Ambarvalia, Robigalia, etc., which were essentially rustic festivals, lustrations of the fields, consisting in a proces sion round the spot to be purified, leading the sacrificial victims with prayers, hymns and ceremonies, in order to protect the young crops from evil influences. (See Preller, Rom. Mythologic, PP. Processions in the Christian Church.—As to the antiquity of processions as part of the ritual of the Christian Church, there is no absolute proof of their existence before the 4th century, but as we know that in the catacombs stations were held at the tombs of the martyrs on the anniversary of their death, for the celebra tion of the eucharist, it is quite probable that the faithful pro ceeded to the appointed spot in some kind of procession. There are, indeed, early instances of the use of the word processio by Christian writers, but it does not in any case appear to have the modern meaning "procession." Tertullian (2nd century) uses processio and procedere in the sense of "to go out, appear in pub lic," and, as applied to a church function, processio was first used in the same way as collecta, as the equivalent of the Greek avvetEcs, i.e., for the assembly of the people in the church (Du Cange, s.v. "Processio").