In 1926 Chicago hosted the International Eucharistic Congress, a five-day celebration that drew nearly one million participants. Such congresses had been held regularly since their inception in France in 1881, but this was the first opportunity for the United States to host. Chicago’s Cardinal George Mundelein recognized the opportunity the congress provided to showcase the Catholicity of his city, and both Protestant America and the Church in Rome took notice. The success of the congress, evident by the crowds it attracted and the extensive media coverage it received, clearly indicate that U.S. Catholics were no longer on the margins of society. The question remains, however, how and why this particular expression of the faith— given its potentially divisive denominational emphasis—became a vehicle for Catholic assimilation. Casting the congress in the context of the burgeoning medium of film and the habits and expectations of its viewership can increase our understanding of this unique moment in U.S. Catholic history.


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pp. 51-73
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