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Processions, an element in all ceremonial, are to be found, as we should expect, in almost every form of religious worship.The example of the processions with the Ark in the Old Testament (cf.

In this procession to the altar the antiphon of the introit was sung. Mark's Day (25 April), which coincided with the old Roman festival of the Robigalia , and in Gaul on the three Rogation Days before the feast of the Ascension, there were processions of exceptional solemnity (see Litany ).

Although not now formally recognized as a procession in the liturgical books, we may say that the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water at the beginning of the parochial Mass on Sundays preserves for us the memory of the most familiar procession of the early Middle Ages .

The rite is prescribed in the Capitularies of Charlemagne and of Louis the Pious, as well as in other ninth-century documents.

For example a Council of Nantes before the year 900 enjoins that "every Sunday before Mass, each priest is to bless water in a vessel which is clean and suitable for so great a mystery, for the people to be sprinkled with when they enter the church, and let him make the round of the yard [ atrium ] of the said church with the [processional] crosses, sprinkling it with the holy water , and let him pray for the souls of them that rest therein" ( Mansi, "Concilia", XVIII, 173).

In the monastic ceremonials of the same period this holy water procession on the Sunday morning was usually described in much detail. At the present day the Roman Missal, which is the primary liturgical authority for this "Blessing of the people with holy water to be imparted on Sundays " (Benedictio populi cum aqua benedicta diebus dominicis impertienda), says nothing about a procession, though some such progress of the celebrant and assistant clerks around the church very commonly takes place.

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