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Posts Tagged ‘Virgin Mary’

Late yesterday afternoon a neighbor and I taxied across town to the sweet little Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco for an organ concert presented by the Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca in honor of La Asunción de la Virgen María (Feast of the Assumption).  Once there, we ran into a couple of friends.  The combined length of time the four of us had lived in Oaxaca totaled over 80 years (with me being the most recent, at nine years).  I point this out because none of us knew why apples accompanied the image of Mary.  Hmmm…  Could it possibly have something to do with Eve in the Garden of Eden, we wondered?

Of course, the librarian in me couldn’t resist doing a little research.  So, first stop on this morning’s grocery shopping trip to Mercado Benito Juárez, was a stop at Oaxaca’s Cathedral to see if the Virgin there also had apples to send her on her way.  After all, the full name is Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption).  Sure enough, Mary stood among bushels of apples.

The origin of the connection between Mary’s Assumption and apples is rather ambiguous.  In sifting through the various explanations that Google found for me, la Virgen is considered the “New Eve” or “new Mother of men.”  Wow, our speculation wasn’t too far from the mark.  It is also said that when Mary drifted off to her final sleep, the cenacle (room the Last Supper was held) began to give off the scent of flowers and apples and, thus the tradition reminds believers of the moment of La Asunción.

Then there is the pragmatic explanation — this is the time of the summer harvest and “In many Catholic countries Assumption Day marks the period for invoking blessings on vineyards, herbs and plants… [and] In the East, where the Assumption Feast originated, the day is commemorated with elaborate ceremonies for blessing fruit trees and grain.”  European colonists brought apples to the New World and they are abundant this time of year — thus Mary asleep among apples.

No matter the story behind this tradition, the aroma of apples was divine!

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As darkness fell and a hush stilled the spectators, the Procession of Silence proceeded along the prescribed route.

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Blindfolded Jesus and banner

Image of Señor de La Columna

Purple hooded penitents carrying crosses

Jesus image carrying cross

Virgen de los Dolores standing above prone Jesus images

Virgen de la Soledad image carried by women

Good Friday in Oaxaca.

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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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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 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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