“The Surprising History of the Catholic Church’s Circus Priests”: The Washington Post

“The Surprising History of the Catholic Church’s Circus Priests”: The Washington Post July 23, 2015

although really, every Catholic priest is a circus, yes?

Before I left the center ring of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s Blue Unit traveling troupe, Father Frank Cancro handed me a postcard. On the front was Mary, her arms outstretched, with a multicolored shawl draping down from her hands like a circus tent. A lion, a tiger and a dancing dog were at her feet, with a clown, an acrobat, a juggler and others contained within the safety of her tent. They all stood on a star, at the center of the center ring.

“Mary, Mother of all who travel down the road, pray for us!” the back of the postcard read.

Mary, Cancro explained, protects those who spend their lives in the circus. That includes Cancro, who has a parish in North Carolina but also works as a “circus priest,” spending three to four days every month with circus folk. His off-white vestments are embroidered with a small, sparkling elephant.

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