A student club at Harvard University dropped its sponsorship of a controversial satanic “black Mass” that was scheduled to take place inside a campus pub, as droves of Catholic protesters showed up to oppose the satanist event and to celebrate their faith at St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club announced Monday that the event, which was set to be presided over by the Satanic Temple, a New York-based group, was not going to be being rescheduled.
“Everyone involved, outside of the Satanic Temple, got really scared,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told the Boston Globe of the decision to cancel the event. “And I don’t necessarily blame them, because I understand that they were getting a lot of vitriolic hate mail, and I don’t think they expected it.”
Here’s video showing the faithful celebrating inside St. Paul’s Church:
But despite the initial cancellation, the satanist organization reportedly held a black Mass off campus and in an alternative location.
“We understand that the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club has indicated their decision to cancel the ‘Black Mass’ reenactment on Harvard’s campus scheduled for this evening, moving it instead to a location off campus,” Harvard dean of students Robert Neugeboren said in a statement Monday.
It is unclear whether anyone from the club was involved in the event, but the Harvard Crimson, the school’s daily newspaper, reported that the Satanic Temple carried on with “what appeared to be a black Mass on the second floor of the Hong Kong restaurant and lounge” around 10 p.m. Monday evening.
According to the outlet, around 50 people gathered for the event, wearing black and some also donning face makeup. The restaurant’s owner later told the Crimson that he was unaware of the incident, which purportedly included a woman in lingerie, four individuals in hoods and one person who wore a horned mask and a cape.
Controversy first erupted days ago after news that the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club would be sponsoring the event quickly went viral.
In addition to drawing the ire of the Archdiocese of Boston and Harvard University President Drew Faust, the satanic Mass angered droves of citizens who protested against it. A petition had attracted more than 40,000 signatures at the time of the cancellation.
And, as noted, many people showed up for an alternative Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on Harvard’s campus Monday night — an event held in opposition to the black Mass.
“I plan to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on our campus on Monday evening in order to join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent,” Faust said in a statement released before the black Mass’s cancellation.
And that Catholic event was apparently well-attended, as images floating around social media claim that it was standing room only:
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) May 13, 2014
While the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club has said that it had no intention to denigrate faith, as CNN notes, black Masses have an odd history and Catholics believe that the events are intended to make fun of communion, among other sacraments.
The entire event is seen by many believers as an attempt to poke fun at faith. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a black mass as, “a travesty of the Christian Mass ascribed to worshipers of Satan.”
It is important to note, though, that the Satanic Temple does not believe in a real devil and instead “advocates for religious tolerance and pluralism,” according to CNN.
The Satanic Temple is the same group fighting to place a monument outside the Oklahoma state capitol grounds.