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"The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary and the Passion of Jesus were themes into which were woven the old folk beliefs of the pagan religions and the everyday morality of the people. These old Miracle Plays were full of homely events and coarse humor; but they were at the same time alive with faith in the new God. They were a very vital element in European culture at the time new Spain was being established." -- em>Early History of the Passion Play on






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Christ Carrying the Cross HHieronymus Bosch, Image c. 1490 (160 Kb); Oil on panel, 76.7 x 83.5 cm; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Ghent

The movable feast occurs from the end of March to mid-April and is celebrated in grand fashion throughout the country. The regions of Andalusia and Murcia have the most renowned celebrations. Part of their splendor is the floral and springtime connotations eminently and lavishly displayed for public viewing, as well as subtly hinted at in the scents from burning wax candles. Brotherhoods also plan year-round to make outstanding presentations in the coming season of Semana Santa.



"/font>font size="2">Essentially famous for its own living self - the greatest city of the Spanish south, of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro, and the archetype of Andalucian promise. This reputation for gaiety and brilliance, for theatricality and intensity of life, does seem deserved. It's expressed on a phenomenally grand scale at the city's two great festivals - Semana Santa (in the week before Easter) and the Feria de Abril (which starts two weeks after Easter Sunday and lasts a week)."
Seville by roughguides for & travelnow

I first learned of the mysteries hidden in Da Vinci's paintings while I was in college studying art history at the University of Seville in Spain. Years later, while researching Angels & Demons and the Vatican Secret Archives, I encountered the Da Vinci enigma yet again.
Dan Brown author of the DaVinci Code

Best selling book of the 21st century

Semana Santa

Semana Santa in Seville
followed by the
Feria de Abril/April Fair
April. Sevilla, Andalucia.

Seville is among the most renowned cities for its staging of this pageant found throughout the Spanish and Portuguese speaking cities of the world. In the capital of Andalucia, one million people, young and old, male and female, religious and secular, pour onto the winding streets of this ancient city to remember the events of The Passion. Religious and community groups from all over the city spend weeks in preparation to ensure that the celebrations do justice to what can be considered the commanding highlight of the Christian calendar.
Processions leave from the cathedral at noon every day. The processions, which date back to the sixteenth century, are organised by cofradías, brotherhoods with up to three thousand members, that are aligned to churches in the city. The participants are hooded in order to protect the anonymity of the sinners seeking forgiveness. The processions are led by Nazarenos dressed in long hooded gowns. These are followed by penitents dragging crosses on their shoulder, and finally costaleros who carry statues, known as pasos, on a float which represent scenes from the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. The slow shuffle of the costaleros from their local church, taking the shortest route to the cathedral through the narrow streets of the old city, can take hours.
It is considered a great honour to carry the float, and each costalero may be carrying up to 100 kilograms in weight. The high point of the procession is when the float exits and enters the respective church, for this is the moment when art and religion merge into one.

Up to two thousand members of a brotherhood (cofradías) take part. Some carry candles, rods or banners depending on their level of seniority. The most senior is the president, who carries a golden rod. There is a fierce rivalry between the two cofradías from Seville and the suburb of Triana. The processions that begin at midnight draw huge crowds and are accompanied by a Flamenco lament. In total, 58 cofradias stage processions during Semana Santa in Seville, with over 50,000 penitents carrying 127 pasos.

Alonso (Huelva):
At the "Fiesta de Judas"  (the traitor of Christ), the image is the bulls' eye for the hunting rifles that the assistants carry. Once their revenge upon the image is completed, the children drag what is left of the image through the streets of the city.

Easter 2005 - Llum

Chinchilla (Albacete):
With great trumpets of four meters length (about 4.5 yards) set on wheels, it is announced in the town, to the sound of cries, the beginning of the Easter Week.

Cuenca (Cuenca):
The procession on Good Friday in Cuenca, known as the Turbas, is particularly unusual. As the figure of Christ carrying the cross is carried among the narrow street, crowds representing the Jews that mocked Jesus beat drumsticks and play clarinets and tubas, creating a cacophony. The irreverent festival has been dubbed the Procession de los Borrachos, or drunks procession. This is in complete contrast to the procession which takes place the following day, called the "Silent Procession," in which utter silence portrays the despair sensed for the death of the Savior. Meanwhile, sacred music is played in the churches.

Trujillo (Cáceres):
On Resurrection Sunday, every one in the city comes to the streets to sing the "Chiriviri" and other popular songs written by the local composer Goro, while dressed in the traditional dress of the region.

Valladolid (Castille)
The main day of the celebrations in Valladolid is Good Friday. In the morning at the Plaza Mayor, the Sermón de las Siete Palabras (Sermon of Seven Words) is held. In the afternoon, in a procession of floats with thousands of fraternity members that covers the peripheries of the old city, there are old-style theatrical representations of the most significant scenes of the Passion: the supper with the apostles, the prayer in the garden, the arrest, the Ecce Homo, the flogging, the preparations for the crucifixion, the seven words spoken by Christ on the cross on seven floats, the death on the cross, Christ's descent from the cross, the recumbent figure, the body in the tomb and the Virgin in mourning. The Procesión General de la Pasión is made up of 31 floats, most of them constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, and organised by the 19 penitential fraternities. Together they form an authentic street museum.

Málaga is the other Andalucia town famous for its Semana Santa.

The Cautivo, the procession of the Virgen del Rocíon, takes place on Monday. Semana Santa Tuesday features the imprisonment of el Moreno, known as the Christ of the Gypsies. On the Wednesday of Holy Week, a prisioner is pardoned as part of the ceremonies of Nuestro Padre Jesús Rico. The canticles of the legionnaires who accompany the Cristo de la Buena Muerte resound in the streets of the city on Maundy Thursday. Never miss the arrival of The Legion to the port, which usually comes at 11 o'clock on a boat from Melilla.

In other towns in the province, Holy Week is also celebrated with intensity and fervour. The spectacle is noteworthy in Córdoba and Granada, and the towns  of Estepona, Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Luque (Saturday), Baeza, Cabra, Jerez, Rio Gordo, Ubeda, Puente Genil and Huercal. In Antequera, the local people run through the steep streets of the town to shouts of "A la vega!" while they try to avoid having their throne captured. Velez-Malaga should not be forgotten, where the images of Christ praying in the garden, Jesus el Pobre and the Virgen de la Soledad set out in procession.


At the procession of the Hallelujahs, the neighbors throw multi-colored confetti in the air in honor of the paso of the Resurrected Christ, and to the Virgin of the Asunción.


On the Eve of Holy Friday, or Viernes Santo or Pascua, people from all over Spain, come to see the procession of the paso of the "Christ of the Flagellation" (or flogging). as wellas other reenactments. All this culminates on Easter or Resurrection Sunday with the procession of the "Glorious Encounter."

Jerez de los Caballeros

There are several celebrations for which this town is known, such as "El Sermon de los Pregones" (The Sermon of the Town Criers) and the "Llano de los Martires" (The Plain of the Martyrs), yet one of the most remarkable processions is the Paso of the Coronado (The Crowned One), or the Virgin of the Solitude. Jerez is a very dispersed town, as far as Spain is concerned, and family members unite on Holy Thursday around 2:00 pm, sharing a regional dish called  Cocido Extremeño,  prepared by a confraternity of the ECCE HOMO.
Easter: The passion of Cartagena

Valverde de la Vera (Cáceres):
This town has a unique procession in which the "Empalaos" (The impaled ones), are lead through the town by a lantern-bearer. The walk hooded and with bare feet on their way to Calvary, with their arms tightly tied to a crossbar with a rope made of esparto. On top of their heads they wear a crown of thorns. From each of the side of the crossbars they hang swords and 30-kilo rings, which cling while they walk. This scene was praised by the Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of Germany to the Pope, and was captured by Goya in one of his paintings. Earlier on Maundy Thursday penitents re-enact the procession to Calvary as they line up throughout the town.

Villanueva de la Serena (Badajoz):
As in other towns of western Spain, the procession of the local virgin, the Virgin of the Aurora, is carried at a fast pace through the streets in what is called the "Carrerita".

Zamora (capital of Zamora, Castille):
The austerity and beautiful serenity of the Holy Week celebration in Zamora are very well known all over Spain. The serious celebrations of Zamora are an important contrast to the other regions of the country. On Holy Wednesday, the Christ of the Injustices is paraded. On the night of Maundy Thursday, the Fraternity of the Recumbent Christ parades with an impressive image of Jesus by Gregorio Hernández on their shoulders. The Congregation takes place on Good Friday, where the rest of the images present the famous bow to the Virgin of Solitude at the Three Crosses.
Zamorra maintains a Holy Week Museum where you can see the magnificent floats year-round

Cartagena (Murcia)

Eleven passionate processionals by four brotherhoods are spectacles of order, light and color. Two parallel columns will march to the rhythm of the drums, often with original funeral march music. Sacred songs (saetas) can arise spontaneously as the brothers pass by. Another spontaneous element of the otherwise militaristic display are the unhooded children passing out gifts, including the locally made sepulchre.

The Easter celebrations in Cartagena are renowned throughout Spain for their emotive processions and stunning embroidered costumes with hoods. The processions are organized by four principal cofradías (fraternities, "marrajos" and "californios") and numerous sub-groups, some dating back as early as the 16th century, each with its own history and traditions. Silence, all white costumes and narrow ancient streets assist the traditional statues and vestments in creating a unique passion which cannot be expressed by words alone.

The longest week of the year is actually 10 days: from Dolores Friday (before Palm Sunday) to Easter Sunday. The light and grandeur of its processions has fascinated fellow Spaniards for years. Declared to have National Tourist Interest in 1968, the processions feature richly embroidered costumes, remarkable emotive religious images, spectacular thrones, special color arrangements and special regiments of Jews and grenadiers. Ilustre Cofradia de Santismo Cristo del Socorro, founding in 1691, presents its Way of the Cross float at dawn on Dolores Friday, with penance stages before the Rosell Virgin (former patron saint of Cartagena) and its current patron saint, the Charity Virgin. The first mass is held on the patron saint's feast day.

The Jesus Resurrected brotherhood members are called marrajos by the people of Cartagena, a reference to days gone by when money for the procession expenses were raised by selling grilled shark on Good Friday. Today, their most important procession takes place on the evening of Good Friday, with the Procession of the Blessed Burial (Procesion del Santo Entierro). All the best vestments and artwork, including contemporary work by Capuz, is put on display. The Bishop of Cartagena and the entire Town Council accompany the spectacular golden, jeweled throne of Santo Sepulchro.

The high point for most locals is when the throne of the virgin enters the Santa Maria de Gracia church. Thousands join together in singing the popular religious song of Cartagena, Salve (save). This is also the church from where most of the processions begin.

Like its Carnaval, Cartagena shares powerful Semana Santa processions within its small autonomous region of Muricia with the cities of Murcia and Lorca.


The tradition of this festival dates back to the 16th century, and combines religious devotion with art in equal quantities. The art is obvious in the unique floats that take part in the processions. They are designed and constructed in the workshops of well-known designers such as Juan de Juni, Gregorio Fernández, Luis Salvador Carmona, Víctor de los Ríos and Francisco Díez de Tudanca, among others. The religious devotion is demonstrated by the members fo the sixteen fraternities and Brotherhoods, locally called "papone." Leon's Holy Week has been declared of international touristic interest

Luarca (Asturias):
The biggest procession is on the Eve of Holy Friday, when the townspeople and those attending the celebrations from other parts walk through the streets of the town behind the paso of the Nazarene with lit candles. This is a very beautiful sight.

An image of the Christ, (Christ of Medinaceli, a Nazarene Christ) is paraded in the streets, surrounded by a procession of people dressed in the penitent's medieval garb. Wearing pointed hoods, chains and shackles, they take turns holding the heavy image.
Madrid by RoughGuides/TravelNow

Medina of the Rioseco (Valladolid):
Here the Nazarene Christ of the Holy Cross is venerated. It is known as the "Cornudo" (the horned one), because it is presided over by a soldier blowing a horn through the streets.  During the week, trumpets are played at the processions by the Pardales.

Orihuela (Alicante):
This is the only city of Spain that prohibits the entrance of one of its pasos into the Cathedral. This paso refers to the "Triumph over the Cross," which portrays a female devil completely nude and with great horns coming from her head. Also, throughout the week there is the custom of singing to the Passion. Years ago, it used to be done in front of the houses of those who lived in sin, to drive them to repent and remit of their sinful lifestyle. This was organized by the Confraternity of the Mortal Sin.

"Fireworks, music, brass bands, dancers, floats, toys, carnival groups, “hachoneros” (people who guard the floats), a concert of whistles… All of these come together in a night of madness and magic, when everybody without exception, fights for a toy."

Murcia Festivals by




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"As a procession enters its church after the long symbolic journey, a hush falls over the crowd as a lone man on a balcony sings an emotional saeta. In a throng of thousands one can hear a coin drop as tired costaleros sometimes scoot on their knees to carry enormous floats through small doors and to their resting place until the next year." --


Murcia Capital of Murcia:
Notable for the nocturnal processions and the pasos (religious images) by the sculptor Francisco Salzillo. The lights from the sky, candles and lanterns, the scent of orange blossom and incense, colour, music and art all mingle, offering a feats for the senses. The festival's popular rhyme goes something like this :
"Who in Holy Week / does not give out candy / will not be pardoned by God / Nor would go to heaven."

Because of this rhyme, or copla as it is called, the "capuchinos" (the hooded Nazarene men) carry under their colorful tunics sweets that they give away. "El Paso de la Cena" (the passing of the Communion) is a spectacular thing, which commemorates the Holy Communion of Christ by placing diverse dishes on fine handmade table clothes.



On the afternoon of Holy Wednesday, the coloraos (reds), in reference to the colour of their tunics, parade the streets in the colour of blood.
the night of Maundy Thursday the city lights are turned off as the procession of silence passes by, surrounding the streets in an aura of breathtaking devotion only interrupted by the voices of the “Auroros” and the choirs singing to the “Cristo del Refugio.”


The procession of “Los Salzillos” is on the morning of Good Friday. Nazarenes wear purple tunics and many go barefoot, carrying crosses on their shoulders for more than eight hours while they walk the streets of Murcia.

On the first Tuesday after Easter, the opening of the Spring Fiestas are celebrated with Bando de la Huerta. Here, Murcia will makes merry to celebrate the arrival of spring and the end of Lent. Besides the grand parade ,the spring fiesta is distinguished by groups or “peñas” of huerfanos, or people from the Huerat, who perform in the most important squares and parks.


The the Murcian Spring Parade is well known for its floats decorated with flowers. It is a Carnaval atmosphere seeking to engulf native and visitor alike into its atmosphere of joy.

Saturday after Easter Sunday brings the burial of the Sardine, the familiar Spanish conclusion to Carnaval, referencing the fasting traditions of Lent. It is a night of magic and madness punctuated by Carnival groups, brass bands, fireworks and more.


Lorca (Murcia):
Famous for its colourful horse parades featuring well trained Spanish stallions.
On the Eve of Holy Friday, the "Auroros" sing their unique "Correlativas", and the celebrations continue when Nero, Vespasian, Tiberius, and even Cleopatra, and carried throughout the streets in processions on the night of Holy Friday.
Also there is competition between two regional virgin pasos  for best colorful adornment; these are the "Blue" (the Virgin of the Dolores--Sufferings), and the "White" (the Virgin of the Amarguras--Bitterness).

Palencia (Castille)
Home to five of the oldest penitential fraternities: Santo Sepulcro (originally of San Francisco from the 15th century), la Vera Cruz (16th century), Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, Nuestra Madre la Virgen de la Amargura (1604) and Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (1657). The high point is the float procession which is part of el Santo Entierro (the holy burial); there is a also a large procession the day before. Another popular traditional event is La llamada de Hermanos (the brothers' call), which summons the fraternity members by blowing the cornet and banging on their doors with sticks during the nights of the Semana de Pasión. Finally, la Procesión del Rompimiento del velo (the procession of the tearing of the veil), marks the end of Holy Week and announces the resurrection of Christ, among explosions of firecrackers, the tolling of bells, and the giving out or bread rolls, almond and lemonade.

Peñafiel (Valladolid):
Amongst many celebrations that take place in this city, probably the most important one is the "Descent of the Angel." A child dressed as an angel on Resurrection Sunday is lowered through pulleys to the image of the Virgin, removing the veil that covers her face and setting doves free. Then a deafening outcry is set free by the city folk who witness the event. (This same act is carried in Aranda del Duero y Tudela, where this act is called the "Bajadica"--the lowering. In some other places the child is lowered from the tower clock of the central plaza, such as in Cartagena).

Segovia (Castille)
One of the most spectacular events is the procession of the Vía Crucis Penitencial, in the convent where the poet Fray Juan de Yepes went in search of the sonorous solitude of God. Also worth seeing is the procession from San Marcos, which carries the image of Cristo Crucificado (Christ on the Cross) across the bridge and over the river Eresma via El Pinarillo, where there is a 15th century Jewish cemetery. The procession is open to all kinds of interpretations, as it also carries the dead body of Christ to la Vista del Alcázar, the city wall and the cathedral. On Friday, in the Plaza de Santa Eulalia, the Sermón de las Siete Palabras and the Vía Crucis Penitencial are held, and in the afternoon there is a meeting of fraternity members for the Procesión de los Pasos, a procession of some ten floats which finishes at the emblematic Roman aqueduct. The Misa de Resurrección on Saturday in the Hieronymite monastery of El Parral is also recommended.

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Photos courtesy of


Valencia celebrates its Semana Santa on the narrow atmospheric streets of its maritime district of Cabanyal. The festivities in Valencia are known as, perhaps, the most colourful in Spain, with 28 Brotherhoods taking to the streets, each with their own uniform, regalia and “imagenes”, including three “armed Brotherhoods” dressed in Napoleonic grenadier uniform and dedicated to the French troops who took the statue of the Virgin under their protection in 1812.

The district comes alive for 10 days with all those Brotherhoods in busy traffic of processions, with a theme to each day. Friday of Pain is dedicated to the pain of the Mother and represented by the Brotherhoods
dedicated to the Virgin, the “armed Brotherhoods” amongst those. This is followed by Saturday of Passion when the legionnaires take to the streets. Palm Sunday sees all of the Brotherhoods on the streets in a joyful mood and with palm branches, to celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On Holy Monday and Tuesday the Brotherhoods carry their “imagenes” (platforms supporting a scene of Christ’s Passions) around the neighbourhood.

Wednesday sees some very curious processions. One of the rarest Semana Santa uniforms – that of Byzantine Crusader infantry, plus a guard of Roman soldiers to receive the imagen of Jesus Nazareno in the Iglesia de
los Angeles. Other Brotherhoods lead processions for world peace, for the forsaken, for the repenting and for compassion.

Thursday sees the first “acto colectivo” – a major procession that involves all of the 28 Brotherhoods. Acto de Profecia is an energetic, charismatic march with much music to announce the coming festivity. At midnight the mood sharply swings to tragic silence. Several Processions of Silence move through the night with torches, not a single word muttered by the hooded members, only the solemn drum setting the pace.

Friday is by far the biggest event – the somber Procession of the Holy Burial, where all 28 Brotherhoods come out in full colours, making it the most colourful celebration of Semana Santa in Spain. It is also a chance to see all of the “imagenes” together in a sequence telling the story of
Christ’s Passions. But before that all of the Brotherhoods will gather in 4 separate parishes to make a Via Crucis procession, commemorating Jesus’ path to the top of Golgotha.

Finally, the mood is again jubilant and energetic on Easter Sunday when the members take off their hoods and march with flowers and music in the Parade of Resurrection.

Last Update: 20SEP05
Last Link Check: 07OCT05