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Holy Week - Passion in Andalucia
Text by: Paula Repo
Photos by: Pasi Rein
Holy Week (Semana Santa) is observed from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday
Seville's Holy Week Fiesta:
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Seville's Festivals - top page
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Processions commemorating Christ's Passion are the high point of Holy Week in Spain. Passion as religious suffering combines with the passionate emotionality associated with the celebration. Crowds of people join the Brotherhoods of Passion, cofradías, in the Way of the Cross filled with austerity, meditation, fervor and enthusiasm.
The Holy Week is a moving and dramatic experience, especially in Andalucia. The Andalusians set out their processions to eclipse all others in splendor and pathos. Already in Seville you can follow 57 cofradías with some 60,000 brothers proceeding from their chapel to the Metropolitan Cathedral and back. The processions start on Palm Sunday and end on Easter Sunday

hooded and in black robes the El Silencio's march
Photo above - In their black robes, surrounded by silence, the members of El
Silencio form a menacing spectacle.

Penitence leads to salvation
All processions have the same fundamental elements, but they look different depending on the character and history of the brotherhood concerned. The Brotherhoods of Passion have their roots in the "Great Famine", the "Black Death" and the uprisings of the late Middle Ages. These trying times encouraged the belief that penitence and suffering lay the way to salvation. The cult of "Vía Crucis" gained more popularity in 1521, when the Marqués de Tarifa returned to Spain from the Holy Land. He institutionalized the Stations of the Cross in Spain.


Photo above - La Centuria Romana (100 Roman soldiers) belongs to the La Macarena procession.

The oldest brotherhood of Seville, El Silencio, was created in 1340, but most of the brotherhoods were formed in the 16th century by clergy, noblemen, guild members or racial minorities. In Granada, the brotherhoods are much younger. Except for San Agustín, they were all established in the 20th century. Nowadays the members of brotherhoods consist of religious laymen only. They have their own symbols, traditions and habits reflecting their religious and social background. Some of them stress piety while others stress festivity and sociability.

Go to page 2 of Holy Week in Spain

 

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This page last updated April 2007
Holy week text copyright held by Paula Repo, photograph copyright by Pasi Rein .