Monday, April 2, 2018

Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and a Video Retrospective of Holy Week in León

Saturday's  Procesión del Santo Cristo Del Desenclavo (The Procession of Christ Freed (from the Cross) is a powerful demonstration of devotion in León, Spain.  Four thousand robed and hooded participants march to the Plaza of San Isidoro with pasos (the giant religious floats) representing the  Virgin Mary and Christ nailed to the cross.  Another thousand without hoods and robes also participate as musicians, candle bearers, and other supporting roles.

Jesus is brought into the plaza of San Isidoro.

Many thousands gather along the processional route.  Those who can squeeze into the plaza of San Isidoro are fortunate to see Jesus removed from the cross and placed in the arms of his Mother.

The Virgin Mary.
The highlight of the Procession of Santo Cristo Desenclavado is when the dead Jesus is removed from the cross and finds his place in the arms of his Mother, the Virgin Mary.  One of the brothers climbs a ladder and reverently removes the Body from the cross with the help of other brothers below.

Jesus removed from the cross.

On the way out of the plaza, Jesus is no longer on the cross, but rather, in the arms of his Mother.
The procession sets the stage for Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección.)

I was fortunate enough to march in the final Holy Week Procession on Easter Sunday, the Procesión de El Encuentro (Procession of the Encounter.)  Until now, the processions have been somber and reflective.  But now, the resurrection of Jesus marks a turning point. The march is a joyous occasion, representing the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. The march music is no longer solemn, but rather lively, and there are smiles on the faces of participants and audience alike.

Eduardo de Paz, who invited me to participate in the celebration of Holy Week, along with his granddaughters:  Mónica, age 7; Paula, age 12; and Irene, age 10. I was pleased to be able to march with the girls during the procession.
I was honored to be invited to march in the Easter Sunday procession.  We no longer cover our faces with hoods, as sin has been forgiven with the resurrection of Jesus, and there is no longer a need for shame.   (Photo by José Luis de Paz.)

While never directly mentioned in the Bible, Catholic tradition holds that Jesus revealed himself to his Mother, the Virgin Mary, early in the morning, shortly after the resurrection.  That tradition is celebrated in the Procession of the Encounter.
In this paso, Jesus has risen from the tomb.  This photograph is from 2016, as I could not both march in the procession and take photographs.

The final paso portrays the Virgin Mary wearing a Crown of Glory.  In her right hand is a scepter, which replaces a handkerchief that she had carried before.  Tears and sorrow are replaced with joy. (Also from 2016.)
The Virgin Mary is seen as Reina de los Cielos (Queen of Heaven). (From 2016.)
I am somewhat sad that Holy Week is over.  It has been a great privilege to learn more about the Spanish Holy Week traditions as a participant. Despite being an American, with, according to my DNA test, less than one percent Spanish ancestry, I have been made to feel welcome and as if I belong here.  Somehow, I feel that if I were to retake the DNA test, it would show that I am fully Spanish. While I know that that can't be true, I also know that when I return again, I will be welcomed with open arms.

It would be impossible to share all of the photographs I have taken, but below, is a short video retrospective of the entire Holy Week. The video lasts a little over three minutes.  In addition to myself, photographers were Ronny Gunzenhauser and José Luis de Paz. The music is from processionals played by the Brotherhood of the Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross. The two pasos photographs from Easter Sunday at the end of the video are from 2016.

If you would like to view the video full-screen, click on the little square at the bottom right of the video player.  Click the "escape" or "esc" key to return to a normal view.

Now that Holy Week is over, I will continue blogging about my adventures, although I will not hold to a daily schedule.  If you would like to follow along and receive a notification when a new post appears, please subscribe by clicking here and entering your email address.

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