CINCINNATI — The Good Friday tradition of "praying the steps" at Holy Cross Immaculata Church will resume this year after it was canceled in April 2020 because of coronavirus concern -- the first time it had been called off in church history.
"Since Governor DeWine has lifted many of the COVID-19 restrictions for church services, Mayor John Cranley has given the parish permission to move forward with plans to provide a safe environment for the large crowds who are likely to be present," read the church's announcement Friday.
For almost 160 years, pilgrims would come to the Mount Adams church to slowly climb the 96 steps from St. Gregory Street up to Holy Cross Immaculata, praying or reflecting on their way up. At the top, people could confess to a priest or grab donuts, coffee or a fish sandwich to celebrate completing the steps.
For those who wish to participate this year, especially people with compromised immune systems, church officials advise praying the steps and visiting the church earlier during Holy Week, when fewer people are likely to be present.
The only Good Friday worship service will be at 7 p.m. No food or drink will be offered at the top of the steps this year, but church officials encouraged worshipers to support surrounding businesses in Mount Adams. Reconciliation will be offered when priests are available, according to the church's announcement.
The upper steps begin below the church entrance on St. Gregory Street; the middle steps begin on Columbia Parkway, and the lower steps begin on Riverside Drive across from the Montgomery Inn Boathouse. Those steps, repaired in 2009, now feature wider steps, lighting, new landscaping and signage. There is also an improved pedestrian overlook at the top of the steps outside the main entrance to Immaculata Church.
The church will be open for private prayer March 29 through April 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
After Mass on Holy Thursday, the church will remain open all night and all day Friday until 11 p.m. Masks will be required in the church, and social distancing and occupancy guidelines will be observed.
For more information about praying the steps, visit www.hciparish.org or call (513) 721-6544.