RADOM, POLAND – If a visitor were to find oneself wandering the streets of Poland during the Christmas season, he’d be struck with a marvelous site: Knights of Columbus, families and countless parishioners taking part in the colorful Orszak Trzech Króli (Three Kings Procession) held in honor of the Catholic feast of the Epiphany.
The Epiphany celebrates the occasion of the Three Kings bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ Child shortly after his birth.
The festive Polish processions have their roots in traditions held throughout Europe. In fact, it draws heavily from the Cavalcade of Magi (parade of kings) that occur in Spain and Italy. The Polish people incorporate their own traditions of Jasełka (the nativity play) and Kołędowanie (Christmas caroling).
The Three Kings Processions have been increasingly popular in Poland throughout the last decade. These festive religious events now take place throughout more than 640 Polish towns and cities, with an estimated 1.2 million participants, organized largely with K of C participation and support.
Council 15216 has assisted with the event in Radom for the past eight years. Father Gabriel Marciniak, chaplain of the council, helped organized last year’s event, welcoming city officials which included Bishop Henryk Tomasik.
On stages set up along the streets, school children presented scenes depicting different biblical Christmas events, including the court of King Herod, the inn, the shepherds and adoration of the Messiah. Finally, participants paid tribute to Baby Jesus at a living Nativity in Corazzi Square, where a local man and woman portrayed St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother.
It’s not the only Epiphany event in Poland that Knights help organize.
In Starachowice, several thousand people processing with colorful swords, shields, crowns and banners. And it’s thanks to Knights of Columbus from Pope John Paul II Council 14023 that the event takes place.
Ryszard Nosowicz,, a former district deputy for Poland and a main organizer of the Starachowice event, said that the event is a great way to revive Christmas traditions.
“The Orszak Trzech Króli brings back the old Polish tradition of nativity plays in the streets, joyous and colorful marches, carolers full of smiles and song proclaiming on the streets and squares the joyous and good news about the birth of Jesus,” said Nosowicz.
The council organized the city’s first procession of the Three Kings with help from Father Józef Romański from All Saints Parish.
The Knights went all out, making their very first event “spectacular” and “unforgettable,” according to the Poland Jurisdiction’s website. A main attraction that caught the eye of even the youngest children were the live camels, sheep and donkeys standing in the stable with Jesus, Mary and Joseph surrounded by shepherds.
The event also helps families see that the Christmas season is time to care for others, according to Nosowicz.
“Not only do we sing carols together, but we also collect funds for charitable purposes. Through personal examples, we also show our children, how joyous and welcoming Christianity is,” he said.
In nearby Brodnica, Knights of Columbus from Merciful Jesus Council 16405 participate in similar events. There, they are responsible for the safety and security during the local Three Kings Procession. Council of 16038 in Głogów Małopolski joins teaching staff and students of the local high school to organize their city’s procession from the church through the market square.
Three Kings processions are just some of the many of the ways Knights of Columbus are Keeping Christ in Christmas throughout Poland and the entire world. Learn more at www.kofc.org/christmas.
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