A reader writes:
As a child I remember going to seven churches on Holy Thursday evening to
visit the Blessed Sacrament. Can you explain the origin and significance
of this practice to me. Is is still being done today?
I don’t have a lot of detail on this, but it apparently is a custom has been practiced in different places. I have evidence that it is a Polish Catholic custom, though it is also shared by other ethnicities, such as Italians.
Common sense would suggest that it may also be an urban custom (cities having the abundances of churches needed for folks to do this) compared to a rural custom (where churches are fewer & farther between).
There’s info on it and other Polish customs ON THIS PAGE.
It also appears to have been mentioned on a Knights of Columbus Page that has moved or is no longer on the web. That page stated:
The Altar of Repose
When the Eucharist is processed to the altar of repose after the Mass of Lord’s Supper, we should remain in quiet prayer and adoration, keeping Christ company. There is a tradition, particularly in big cities with many parishes, to try and visit seven churches and their altar of repose during this evening.
As to whether it is still practiced, according to the Denver Catholic Register, it is:
To this day, Italians customarily visit seven churches for Eucharistic adoration on Holy Thursday night, a reflection of the ancient pilgrimage practice of visiting seven Roman basilicas to obtain the plenary indulgence. Austrians light bonfires on Holy Saturday night to welcome the light of the risen Lord [LINK].
Perhaps others can comment with their knowledge of the custom.