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Posts Tagged ‘penitents’

An albeit belated return to Semana Santa (Holy Week). Viernes Santo (Good Friday) in Barrio de Jalatlaco began early in the morning with a Santo Viacrusis along the cobblestone streets — a recreation of the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Its purpose is to allow the faithful to contemplate the Passion of Christ. The images of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, accompanied by a band and neighbors, stopped at each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross, that had been created throughout the neighborhood, where prayers were recited.

Image of Jesus being carried by Penitents.
Image of Mary Magdalene.
1. Jesus is condemned to death.
2. Jesus takes up his Cross.
3. Jesus falls for the first time.
4. Jesus meets his Mother.

At the fourth station, set up across from the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco, Mary and John the Baptist (referred to here as, Juan, el primo de Jesús/John, the cousin of Jesus) joined the procession for the farewell encounter between Jesus and his mother.

Mary, Mother of Jesus.
John, the Baptist.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls for the second time
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus falls for the third time.
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.
11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
12. Jesus dies on the Cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Following the procession, neighbors gathered in front of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco for food and beverages that were available for sale at stalls set up on Aldama and Hidalgo. I came home with yummy enchiladas.

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The sights and sounds of Good Friday in Oaxaca have gone missing. Weeks ago, the archbishop canceled all public Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations. Jesús, María, San Pedro, Penitents, religious banners, and devotees are not processing through the streets to the rhythmic beat of a tambor, high-pitched tones of a chirimía, and the sputtering sounds of a rachet. While not religious, I miss it and this year last year’s photos will have to suffice.

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The streets are empty, as Viernes Santo has gone silent.

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As far as I’m concerned, Señor de la Humildad y Paciencia was the patron saint of Friday’s, Procession of Silence.  He waited for hours inside the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, while we waited for hours outside, for the procession to begin.

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At least he was sitting down.  For the penitents, their lot was a lot of standing around.

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Some of the participants passed the time joking around (and occasionally teasing this gringa blogger), others looked incredibly bored, but all remained patiently stationed in place.  After all, in the words of one guy’s t-shirt, “don’t panic,”  it will eventually start.

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Then, there is always one’s cell phone to provide a bit of distraction.

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The 6 PM start time for the procession came and went, as did the daylight and my hope for taking any decent photographs of the actual procession.  (One of these days, I will master night photography of moving objects, she says, hopefully!)  It looked like even San Pedro was looking to the heavens for divine intervention to get the show on the road.

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About 6:45 PM, with lights flashing, a small phalanx of motorcycle police signaled our prayers had been answered and a hush fell over the multitudes lining the sidewalks, streets, and balconies — the Procesión del Silencío had finally begun.

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In Oaxaca the penitents gathered…

Purple hooded penitent

in front of Preciosa Sangre de Cristo on Good Friday…

3 black hooded penitents

preparing for the Procession of Silence.

Purple hoods behind black hooded penitent

For those who are wondering, “What’s with the hoods (capirotes)?”  The answer can be traced back to the Middle Ages.  Members of lay religious charitable organizations (cofradías) would don the masks and hoods to guarantee anonymity and promote humility in their service.

From the Holy Week in Seville, Wikipedia page:

At the heart of Semana Santa are the brotherhoods (Hermandades y Cofradías de Penitencia),[1] associations of Catholic laypersons organized for the purpose of performing public acts of religious observance; in this case, related to the Passion and death of Jesus Christ and to perform public penance.

The brotherhoods, besides the day-to-day work in preparation for the processions, also undertake many other self-regulated religious activities, and charitable and community work. Many brotherhoods maintain their own chapel, while others are attached to a regular parish.

The Spanish brought the tradition to Mexico and penitents continue to play a major role in the Viernes Santo, Procesión del Silencio in Oaxaca.

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