“Follow the horse, and he will show you!”
Source for the original article on this church: link
Piper City is a small town, and like so many down here, St. Peter’s is one of [two] rural parishes served by a single priest. The parishioners gather in the social hall before Mass, where the pastor does the introductory gospel reading and blesses and distributes the palms. Outside, a parishioner on horseback — dressed up in a purple cloak for the occasion — leads everyone solemnly down the street to the church. (After everyone goes in for Mass, he hurriedly puts his horse in the trailer and takes off the cloak before joining us. There’s no hitching post outside the church.)
This is the front of the procession, as it turned the corner to come to the church building…
Earlier this year, [This story is a few years old.] the church reopened after extensive repairs from a fire caused by a lightning strike. The damage was mostly contained in the rear of the building; this church has among the most beautiful stained glass windows we’ve ever seen, and fortunately they all survived. A couple of them are visible in the photo to the right; someday I’ll post pictures of the other windows. Note that there is only one altar: the old high altar, with the tabernacle still in place. When they reopened the church, they decided not to put the freestanding altar back in; the priest now says Mass “facing east,” with the congregation. He’d been using that posture out of necessity for the many months when Mass was celebrated in the social hall (while repairs were being undertaken). Everyone grew to like and appreciate it, so they’ve kept it that way back in the church building.
Speaking for myself, I think it adds a real richness to the liturgy; it emphasizes the sacrificial nature of the Mass in a way that isn’t always clear when the priest is facing the people.
This place is a real gem.
We will be posting more details soon.