April 6, 2012


Hooded and cloaked to conceal their identities, the penitents
walk solemnly.  Many choose to walk barefoot, an additional
penance promised to God to absolve their sins.
I've had more religion in the past seven days than in the past 38 years.  Sinners cloaked in dark velvet hoods, a penance for sins held private for too long.  Flowered balconies brimming with pinks and purples as tearful saetas spill out over the masses below.  And crowds by the thousands, every one of them stretching skyward on tiptoes pinched in shinny new shoes as necks strain to see the Virgen float by on the broken shoulders of the costaleros.  This is Semana Santa in Spain.  This is Holy Week.

Our nights in the pueblo have been late, the mood somber.  We follow the priest up the main street to the town plaza as the float bearing Christ nailed to the cross maneuvers the tight corners of the callejon atop shoulders of school children.  It is in a word, humbling.  There are twelve stops along the way, each one just long enough for the costaleros to catch their breath and the priest to detail yet another station of the cross.  The pueblo is quiet, pensive, respectful save for the wayward Vespa that buzzes down an empty sidestreet in hopes of finding an open bar to catch the last half of the futbol game.  Tonight, this Good Friday, we will be back at the plaza for one last procession.  The two brotherhoods of the pueblo will carry their floats atop the shoulders of weeping men.  The two groups will weave in and out of our narrow pueblo streets until they meet in the main plaza thus reuiniting Mary and her Son.

This float is called El Cristo de la Caridad   It is mounted on a
handcarved rosewood platform dating back to the early1500s &
weighs over 1500 kilos.  And it was carried on the backs of men 
who march in unsion underneath its massive weight.
Semana Santa in Spain is serious stuff.  It's over the top.  Excessive.  So totally Spanish and even dare I say, somewhat hypocritical.  This is not the Hallmark Easter of colored eggs and fluffy white bunnies.  And I'm fine with that.  To witness grown men drop to their knees, heads bowed and hands clasped tightly as tears roll from cheek to chin and then drop to knuckle I realize it's not something you explain but perhaps, if you're lucky, just maybe it's something you feel.

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