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Posts Tagged ‘Procession of Silence’

Late afternoon on Good Friday (Viernes Santo), the people began gathering along the sidewalks of the Andador Turístico (aka, the Alcalá), Allende, and Garcia Vigil, staking out a favored spot to watch the Procession of Silence.  Not to worry, the Girl and Boy Scouts were there to keep everything and everybody in order and to remind one and all to “please, keep silent.”

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And, lest you misbehave, there were a couple of drones hovering above the fray to record the action, both good and bad, and offering an interesting juxtaposition against Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán’s colonial architecture — the old and new of Oaxaca.IMG_1083

Daylight Savings Time hasn’t yet begun in Mexico and the setting sun offered dramatic light as Señor de La Columna emerged from Santo Domingo to take his place in the procession.IMG_1074

However, the light was fading fast as the high-pitched tones of the chirimía and the rhythmic beat of the tambor at last heralded the start of the procession and Señor de la Humildad y Paciencia made his way from Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.IMG_1110

As darkness fell, the street lights proved challenging and my photos of the 50+ religious banners, as they slowly passed my vantage point on Allende, left a lot to be desired, except for this littlest of standard bearers.IMG_1156

This year the faces of Jesús and María seemed to be lit from underneath and that helped a bit.IMG_1172

However, perhaps the darkness was whispering to me to stop making photos and just “be” with the experience.IMG_1189

This was the thirtieth year of Oaxaca’s Procesión del Silencio and so I suspect there will many more to come.

 

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I wasn’t brought up in the Virgin and crucified Christ tradition.  No baggage, no boredom — perhaps that is why I find the multiplicity of María and Jesús images so fascinating.  Thus, I can’t resist a little “up close and personal” at the Procession of Silence.

Señor de Esquipulas

Señor de Esquipulas – Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen Alto

Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores - Parroquia de Santo Tomas Xochimilco

Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores – Parroquia de Santo Tomas Xochimilco

Señor de Las Tres Caídas - Parroquia de Santo Tomás Xochimilco

Señor de Las Tres Caídas – Parroquia de Santo Tomás Xochimilco

La Piedad

La Piedad

Jesús con la Cruz a Cuestas - Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patracinio

Jesús con la Cruz a Cuestas – Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patracinio

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores -  Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores – Capellanía de Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio

Señor de La Columna - Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (front) – Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (back) - Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Señor de La Columna (back) – Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

The rituals and images continue to remain alien to me, but I can’t help but appreciate them as cultural expressions.

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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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Adiós to 2014.  It was another year filled with the always amazing and often surprising sights and sounds of Oaxaca.

January – The new year began with a Quinceañera at Iglesia Sangre de Cristo on the Macedonio Alcalá.

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February – Most of the month was spent in California and New York, but returned to Oaxaca sun, blue sky, and buildings with character.

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March – Ahhh… the flowers, the boys, and the girls of the “only in Oaxaca” Paseo de los Viernes de Cuaresma.IMG_2401

April – The banners of the Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence) on Good Friday during Semana Santa (Holy Week).

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May – Karen and Jasen Willenbrink exhibition at Gorilla Gallery.

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June – Pretty in pink, a protest by tuk-tuks (moto-taxis) on the zócalo.

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July – Up into the Sierra Norte for the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (Wild mushrooms fair) in San Antonio Cuajimoloyas.

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August – Mini Guelaguetza sponsored by the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) on the Plaza de la Danza.

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September – A rainy morning walk up to the presa (dam), Piedra Azul in Teotitlán del Valle.

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October – Day of the Dead tapetes de arena in progress on the Plaza de la Danza.

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November – Ofrenda in San Pablo Villa de Mitla with the village’s traditional and intricately decorated pan de muerto.

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December – Nochebuenas (poinsettias) for sale at mercado Sánchez Pascuas.

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Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful 2014 blog readers! I am blown away that people from 125 countries have stopped by View from Casita Colibrí this year.  Your presence, comments, and encouragement have been SO very much appreciated.

¡Feliz año nuevo a tod@s!  I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring.

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Good Friday wasn’t all about Mary.  Viernes Santo processions present larger-than-life images of Jesús in all his piety and suffering.

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Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Superstar
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

Superstar, lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Good Friday in Oaxaca… Jesús may be the one who they say was crucified and resurrected, but María is never far from his side.

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From frequent traveler to Oaxaca, Liza Bakewell’s book, Madre:  Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun:

One can travel all over Spain and its former viceroyalties and never see as many elaborately bedecked and bejeweled Virgins as one will see here in Mexico — neither in number, nor in glory.  Yes, in Peru there are many famously ornate ones.  In Colombia, too.  Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador have their share.  The Philippines is a runner-up.  But Mexico has all of them beat.  Marian devotion, the worship of the Virgin Mary in all her forms through song, prayer, writing painting, sculpture, and shrines, went wild in Mexico.  (p. 169)

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The Semana Santa poster said the Viernes Santo (Good Friday) Procesión del Silencio was to begin at 6 PM in front of .  Knowing the drill, I arrived at 4:45 to take photos as contingents and participants arrived — but nobody was there.  The old antiwar slogan, “What If They Gave a War and Nobody Came” came to mind.

Of course it was going to happen, it’s just that time isn’t what it seems here. Word on the scene had it that, despite the poster info, it wasn’t to begin until 6:30 PM.  No worries!  Well, except that Mexico doesn’t begin Daylight Saving Time until next weekend, the light began rapidly fading, and 6:30 PM became 7 PM.  Por favor, let Oaxaca’s 27th annual Parade of Silence begin!

And it eventually did — up Macedonio Alcalá, left at the Cruz de Piedra, left again on García Vigil to Independencia, another left, and back up the Alcalá.  And so, in darkness and silence the procession returned to the church where it all began.  Contingents could be heard late into the night parading through the streets of the city, as they returned the Jesuses and Marías to their respective home churches.

Lots more photos can be seen over at Oaxaca-The Year After.

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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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The back of the official 26th anniversary t-shirt for the Good Friday, Procesión del Silencio, doesn’t come close to telling the tale.

Back of T-shirt: Face of Jesus; text "1986 Procesion del silencio 2012"

Images of belief add texture to the ritual procession of mourners grieving the crucifixion and death of Jesus, as related in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

Close up of a bleeding Jesus head and torso on a cross

But it’s the eyes of believers…

purple hooded face with only eyes showing

that gives the narrative a silent voice.

Virgin Mary statue with halo from shoulders up.

And, grieving mothers everywhere understand.

Profile of a woman wearing black veil and glasses.

No matter where one lands on the belief continuum, it’s hard not to be moved.

(ps)  For lots more terrific photos, take a look at Chris’s posting, The Procession of Silence.

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Man in purple hood, leaning against large wooden cross.

Mary with praying over Jesus

Jesus seated; head leaning on hand; on arm resting on knee

In front of Preciosa Sangre de Cristo Templo on Viernes Santo (Good Friday), waiting for the Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence) to set off up the Álcala, down Garcia Vigil, and back up the Álcala to Sangre de Cristo.

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The Procesión del Silencio departed from the Iglesia de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo and proceeded up the Alcalá to Gómez Farias, where it turned left and left again and down García Vigil to Independencia and then back up the Alcalá. Once the procession began, fellow blogger Chris (Oaxaca-The Year After) and I left the masses on the Alcalá and positioned ourselves on a wall overlooking García Vigil, for an unobstructed view.

Out of respect for what is being commemorated, tradition calls for participants and spectators to remain silent, save for the solemn drum beat and haunting sounds of a chirimia that herald the procession’s arrival and continue to play as the faithful from various neighborhoods and churches carry banners, crosses, and images of the crucified Jesus and his grieving mother through the streets of the city.

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Spectators, participants, and the ever-present vendors waiting for the Procesión del Silencio…

Dad holding baby girl

2 red hooded participants waiting.

Participants and spectators

Altar kids lined up
White hood participants waiting

Woman vendor holding basket of candy.

More to come…

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