Hundreds of Polish Catholics from the Archdiocese of Chicago joined Catholics in Poland in celebrating Epiphany by walking from St. Ferdinand Church to St. Ladislaus Church on the Northwest Side Jan. 8. The Epiphany procession, in its fourth year in Chicago, represents the three kings (or Magi, or wise men) going in search of the baby Jesus, said Father Jason Torba, pastor at St. Ferdinand. It mirrors the processions that take place in Poland each year on Jan. 6, the traditional date of the feast of Epiphany and the last of the 12 days of Christmas. The day was restored as a national holiday in Poland in 2011. “We do this in Poland,” said Barbara Szeligowska, who participated in the Chicago procession. “It shows we know Jesus Christ is born, and we are going to see the baby Jesus.” No one in the group seemed deterred by temperatures in the low teens under sunny skies. “It’s a beautiful day,” Szeligowska said. “This is something that was started a few years ago, really by the laypeople in Poland,” Torba said. “But the bishops’ conference and the church support it. The idea was that you were walking to find Jesus, and you go out of the church to show people on the outside that Jesus was born. It was a response to all the commercialism of Christmas. They wanted to show that it’s not about commercialism. It’s about Jesus being born.” In Chicago, the procession is the second Sunday after Christmas, which is when Epiphany is celebrated in Catholic churches in the United States. Auxiliary Bishop John Manz celebrated the regular 10 a.m. Mass at St. Ferdinand, 5900 W. Barry Ave., followed by Christmas carols in Polish and English and performances by children from the parish’s Polish school. The procession this year was led by a flatbed truck with a band — the drummer was dressed as St. Nicholas — people portraying the Magi and cutout figures of a horse, camel and elephant. Along the way, participants — including children dressed like the Holy Family, angels, shepherds and other characters in the Nativity story — wore paper crowns, carried banners and sang Christmas carols in Polish and English. When the group arrived at St. Ladislaus, there was another performance by the children, followed by a brief reception and refreshments. Katrzynka Zeitek brought her three daughters — Julia, 8; Alexandra, 6; and Gabrielle, 5 — dressed as angels, with white dresses and wings layered on top of their winter coats. “This is a big holiday for us,” Zeitek said. The event ended with St. Ladislaus’ regularly scheduled 1:30 p.m. Mass. Torba said that Polish media reported on Jan. 6 that more than half a million people participated in more than 500 Epiphany processions this year.