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Posts Tagged ‘Viernes Santo’

Jesus and Mary up close and in color from their Viernes Santo (Good Friday) morning meeting in front of Oaxaca’s Cathedral.

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I know, some photos just beg for a caption.  Once all the Marys and Jesuses had gathered, prayers had been recited, and rituals performed, they all processed back to their home churches to rest up for the evening’s Procession of Silence.

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… including Soledad.  Since she was going my way, I walked her home.

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And, yes, she made it back to the Basilica safe and sound.

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A few Viernes Santo (Good Friday) favorites from the morning’s encounter between Jesús and María in front of the Cathedral.

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Faces that have become familiar.

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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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Good Friday morning, the streets of Oaxaca are quiet, and solitude seems to be the order of the day.  The only sounds that could be heard coming from the streets in my ‘hood were prayers being sung as Our Lady of Solitude left her eponymous home at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.

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As you can see, alone, Oaxaca’s patron saint was not; acolytes carried and accompanied her on her morning stroll.

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A crystal clear, brilliant blue sky provided a backdrop for her sojourn.

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Slowly she made her way down Independencia en-route to the Cathedral.

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She was one of the first to arrive at this ritual Viernes Santo gathering.

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The guys took over and maneuvered her into position at the side of the Cathedral, as the faithful awaited.

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There, she would soon be joined by other images of the Santísima Virgen and Jesús from many of the numerous churches in the Historic District.

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After at least two hours of prayers and songs and more prayers, Soledad returned to the Basilica, perhaps to rest (like me) before again taking to the streets for this evening’s Procession of Silence.

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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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And so, Viernes Santo began…

Procession

Processions from churches in the Historic District began at 7:00 AM.

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They converged at the Alameda, on the south side of the Cathedral,

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where “our Lord meets his most Holy Mother going towards Calvary.”

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The faithful, now as one, then proceeded east on Independencia…

People dragging wooden crosses

along with the images of Mary and Jesus…

Statues of Mary and Jesus

stopping along the way at Stations of the Cross.

Septima Estacion - altar on outside stairs

I left at 9:30 AM — they were still going.  Early this evening, all will again gather for the Procession of Silence.  No rest for the faithful or weary bloggers!

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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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And so Viernes Santo (Good Friday) began…

Mass said, a Vía Crucis (Stations of the Cross) procession through the streets of my neighborhood.

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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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More than one norte americano has asked, “What’s up with the KKK-like hoods?”  Ahh… a reference question for the librarian!

Purple hooded men carry a Jesus statue

They date back to 15th or 16th century Europe.  Members of lay religious charitable organizations (cofradías) would don the masks and hoods to guarantee anonymity and promote humility in their service. The Spanish brought the tradition to Mexico.

References:

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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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