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The Living Stations of the Cross

The Living Stations of the Cross

Black Catholic Difference in the Black Metropolis

(p.83) 3 The Living Stations of the Cross
Authentically Black and Truly Catholic
Matthew J. Cressler
NYU Press

This chapter introduces “the Living Stations of the Cross,” a Black Catholic reenactment of the passion and death of Jesus performed annually by parishioners of Chicago’s largest Black Catholic church from 1937 to 1968. This devotional practice serves as a lens through which to better understand the ways in which Catholic ritual life and relationships distinguished Catholic converts from the Protestant churches proliferating around them in the midst of the Great Migrations. It argues that Black Catholics should be understood as sharing in the same impulse as other new religious movements or “religio-racial movements,” such as the Black Hebrews and Black Muslims, who adopted religious practices and bodily disciplines that marked them as different from the assorted Black evangelical practices that were quickly coming to be understood as normative for Black religious life (known by the shorthand “the Black Church”).

Keywords:   African American religion, Great Migrations, Black Chicago Renaissance, devotionalism, stations of the cross, lived religion, new religious movements, religio-racial movements, Black Church, race

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