Colour of Christian devotion marks Easter in Spain

4th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2007, MADRID - Holy Week will brings some of the most colourful expressions of Christian devotion across Spain.

4 April 2007

MADRID -  Holy Week will brings some of the most colourful expressions of Christian devotion across Spain.

The celebrations range from the most austere religious devotion as reflected in the processions of the central region of Castile and Leon, to the more flamboyant traditions professed by natives of Andalusia in the south.

The Palm Sunday procession, which symbolizes Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey, marks the beginning of Holy Week in Spain.

The first of the religious ceremonies is the Mass where the Holy Week story is told and children come with their families for the blessing of the palms and olive branches that symbolize the welcoming of Christ, and which they keep in their homes until the following year.

From Monday, streets all over Spain begin to fill with the pointed hoods and robes of penitents, members of the Catholic brotherhoods, bearing holy images that recreate the Passion of Christ.

The city of Zamora boasts the country's oldest procession, that of the True Cross, symbol of the devotion and austerity with which the Castilians live these days.

Especially moving is the Way of the Cross in the town of Valverde de la Vera in the Extramadura region, where some 40 barefoot penitents tied with hempen ropes and crowned with thorns bear a huge, heavy cross in silence through the narrow streets.

One of the most powerful traditions is to be found in the town of San Vicente de Sonsierra in the northern region of Rioja, where on Holy Thursday and Good Friday locals hold a procession to pray before the Sorrowful Virgin, an observation that goes back to the 16th century.

After prayers, penitents scourge themselves for 20 minutes through the streets of the town, giving themselves as many as a thousand lashes, until friends from the brotherhood bathe their wounds with rosemary water.

Another tradition at this time of year is the government's pardon of a prisoner, who afterwards takes part in the procession of the Brotherhood of Charity in Valladolid where 17th-century religious sculptures are borne through the streets and which has become an attraction for international visitors.

The penitential aspect of the Way of the Cross is observed intensely in the Castilian city of Avila, where more than 10,000 penitents walk the 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) around the city's medieval walls before dawn on Good Friday in the company of the Most Holy Christ of Those Who Are Put to Death.

On the east coast, the Murcia region is known for the procession of "Salzillos," in which 1,700 Nazarenes dressed in the purple robes characteristic of this procession walk for almost five hours through the streets of this city bearing works of the celebrated 18th century sculptor Francisco Salzillo.

At noon on Good Friday, more than 20,000 drums beat uninterruptedly in the streets of Calanda, hometown of surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and only go quiet 24 hours later.

The Andalusian region draws crowds with the beauty of the ancient sculptures displayed in the processions and the fervor of brotherhood members, who prepare for this moment all year long. In the emotional atmosphere the public joins in the Flamenco singing and improvisation of verses for Christ and the Virgin they venerate.

Seville at the center of these celebrations turns out for the famous "Before Dawn" event when three of the most popular images of the local Holy Week are paraded: the Virgen of Macarena, the Hope of Triana and the Great Power.

After the devotions of preceding days, Easter Sunday changes the mood of the celebrations into one of joy and which the city of Peñafiel celebrates with the "descent of the angel," in which a child is suspended over a sculpture of the Virgin to remove her veil of mourning and announce to her the resurrection of her son. EFE

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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