The Corpus Christi feast, the Rifle Association and the "chicken king" election

facebook icon twitter icon email icon telegram icon link icon whatsapp icon

The Corpus Christi feast, celebrated on the 60th day after Easter, was the most significant annual Roman Catholic celebration in Lviv. It had a distinctly national character and was interpreted as "Polish." On this day, celebrations related to the Rifle Association traditionally took place.

* * *

To the extent that Epiphany was "Ruthenian" (and later "Ukrainian"), the Corpus Christi festivity can be considered "Polish." Although in this case it is more correct to talk about a whole series of celebrations, where the secular part coincided with Catholic celebrations and prolonged them, all this continuing after Easter and falling on the Pentecost (Green Holidays), on the following Sunday and on the feast of the Eucharist (Body of God). An important role in these celebrations was played by the Rifle Association, in which the "chicken king", i.e. the best shooter of the year, was elected during this period of time. On those days, parades, fireworks and mass celebrations were held in the city, complementing solemn processions with Holy Gifts (Eucharist) around Catholic churches.

For example, in 1911, on the first day of the Green Holidays (which fell on Sunday, June 4), "with the usual pomp and medieval attributes, the shooting festival started." On that day, the "dethroning" of the acting "king" took place. In the morning, the members of the Rifle Association gathered in the City Hall, solemnly walked around the Rynok Square and went to the residence of the acting "king" (in this case located on Kopernika Street) to take the Association's silver mace back from him. From there, just as solemnly, through Halicki Square and Bernardyński Square, Czarneckiego Street and Kurkowa Street they went to the Strzelnica (Shooting Range). Then, in the same solemn way and with music, the members of the Association went to the Franciscan monastery for mass and then returned to the Strzelnica. There, in front of the portrait of the King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Sigismund II Augustus, the "chicken king and both marshals" laid down their regalia, the former "king" received a commemorative gift, a small golden rooster, and opened a competition among shooters for the title of the new "king."

Celebration of the Corpus Christi on the Rynok Square (1909)

The competition itself began on the following day, Monday, June 5, the second day of the Green Holidays. They lasted for a week, with 27 participants making 1080 shots, and ended on Sunday, June 11 at 19:00.

On the very feast of Corpus Christi, on Thursday, June 15, 1911, the main event was a divine service in the Latin Cathedral at 8:00. The festive procession with the Holy Gifts was attended by representatives of the clergy, the marshal of the Diet, the governor, members of the Provincial Department (representatives of autonomy), military authorities, members of corporations and organizations, the Rifle Association and ordinary participants (spectators). There was also a small military parade of the 15th and 95th infantry regiments of the Lviv garrison.

On the same day, the enthronement of the new "chicken king" and the approval of two new "marshals" took place. At 11:00, after a divine service and a solemn meeting in the City Hall, the festive march went through Teatralna Street, Krakowski Square, Gołuchowskich Street, Karola Ludwika Street, Jagiełłońska Street, Trzeciego Maja Street, Słowackiego and Kopernika Streets to the residence of the new "chicken king" on Bogusławskiego Street (now Lukiyanovycha Street), and from there to the Strzelnica, where the "enthronement" was held. In addition, awards for accurate shooting were presented, a march was held around the Strzelnica, and in the evening a "royal reception" was held. On Sunday, June 18, a new shooting competition began, now with a prize.

"Royal Shootings" of 1913