Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

First an honour guard.

Then the penitents, carrying long wax candles, keeping slow pace with the drums of the marching band, far behind.
Next, Mary, Queen of Sorrows.
At the church, her bearers turned her to face the open door, and set her down. The band played a slow march, and the crowd began to sing. After a few minutes, the bearers lifted her up again, slowly turned her 90 degrees, and moved on.
As they came closer, we realised that all the bearers were women; thirty-two of them, all moving in slow rhythm. The palanquin was chased with silver, and draped in black velvet, with a circle of silver stars in the canopy above her head. She carried the crown of thorns on a white cloth.

A group of women came next, in formal black, with high combs and black mantillas. The first marching band passed, and we could hear the second one in the distance. Ahead of the second palanquin walked a girl swinging an incense burner, and another group of penitents. These were members of a different hermandad, or brotherhood, from the first group, and wore different coloured robes.

The Crucifixion. This time, thirty-two men carried the solid wood platform banked with red roses. The four candles were unlit. As before, they stopped at the church door before moving on again. When they picked up the palanquin again, the movement was so slow and smooth that it seemed to float up and round. After this, the second band passed, in uniforms straight out of a Goya painting.

Finally the bishop, and a number of clergy and lay people brought up the rear, many of them carrying votive candles. After that, the crowd dispersed, but an hour later, the procession passed through Plaza Santa Ana, and there, I think, having walked, played, and carried those palanquins for two and a half hours, they finished.

Members of the first band.

The women in black.

It was a strange experience. For the people in the procession, and many of the people lining the street, this was a significant silent procession. Yet there were people talking and cameras flashing everywhere, and when the procession halted, relatives of some of the walkers stepped in to take photographs. There were even one or two people taking shortcuts behind the walkers! All religious practices become tourist attractions in the end. I should know, I was there with my camera.

1 comment:

Mme Cyn said...

As loud as the Muslims are about their religion, they just can't touch the Catholics for solemn yet glorious display, can they? Dubai's hoidays aren't nearly as much fun as Europe's, are they? (And gee, in Spain I'll bet the ships were closed!)

I remember way back to my distant past (sometime in the 70s) going to the entire Easter Week services in Naples, Italy. Absolutely magical, especially the candlelight vigil. I always thought I had to make sure I had Easter Week in the Philippines on my to-do list .... now it looks like I'll need to add Spain.

Thanks for the photos!