The fascinating procession of hooded figures is an established Sorrento tradition. These liturgical processions during Easter are a demonstration of the genuine religious beliefs of the inhabitants of the region, between Sorrento and neighboring towns, in fact 20 different processions mark the Holy Week celebrations.
Holy Week processions are an event that the people of these towns look forward to with enthusiasm throughout the year. The protagonists of this unusual celebration are the lay confraternities and charity groups of devotees who have been reviving the evangelical message and traditions for centuries. On Holy Thursday and Good Friday - in an atmosphere filled with emotion and mysticism - the men with hooded black, red or white gowns (depending on the tradition of the confraternity), slowly pass by in silence in the streets lit up by torches, carrying statues and symbols of the Passion and death of Christ. It is a disquieting image. The first time I saw the white robes and hoods with holes cut for their eyes exit the Church of the Addolorata and silently walk down the narrow alleys in locked single-step footfall, carrying torches and crucifixes, enveloped in the silence and solmenity of their lugubrious frocks, it all immediately brought to mind disturbing images of crosses burning and strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Needless to say, there is absolutely nothing that links the Sorrento Holy Week processions to the surreal values of white supremacy fanatism. Except for an unsettling visual similarity.
Photo by Luigi Soldatini
On Maundy Thursday we watched the Processione dell'Addolorata, better known as the "white" procession, since the men all wear white robes. It is one involving over 300 people, and it is organized by the Venerabile Arciconfraternita di Santa Monica. It symbolizes Mary wandering the streets of Jerusalem in search of her son, arrested by the Temple guards the night before the crucifixion. The long and silent march exits the church at sunset. The participants wearing the snow white habit - faces concealed by the typical pointed hood - carry torches, crosses and the statue of the Madonna on their shoulders on a raised platform and march it all through town until dawn. The men chosen to carry the statues are envied by their fellow brethren immensely.
Freaky, isn't it?
Nobody can describe things the way you do, amica mia. This is a wonderfully rich and historical compendium of Settimana Santa. Grazie mille and enjoy the sunshine of Sorrento.ReplyDelete
Wish we were all there with you and E.
I can remember seeing a very similar procession in a mountain village in Spain years ago. It was to an English visitor coming across it unexpectedly utterly terrifying.ReplyDelete
Those outfits have a TOTALLY different meaning here in South Carolina!ReplyDelete
thanks for telling us about these processions and rituals.
Do you think that the recent tragedy has engendered greater religiosity in Italy?
I find the hooded figures disturbing as they already are embedded in my consciousness and have a very fear producing effect on my psyche.
Why do the participants need to have their heads covered I wonder.
Ritual and religion is a fascinating part of the human condition - and much more visibly present in some parts of the world than others.
Lola, these photos are quite awesome. Interesting to learn the background behind these fearsome-looking hooded figures. I am just imagining the sound of the Miserere... evocative indeed.ReplyDelete
Beautiful images in the earlier post, too :)
Enjoy the sun, the sea (and the sea-food.) Such a rich way of describing things you have.ReplyDelete
wowwww-I can only imagine but I get shivers all the way over here in your recounting of the events. Amazing photographs. I have a hard time getting beyond the creepy. Even just in thinking of the age of the tradition, the history still being lived as it was hundreds of years ago, I get more shivers. Very impressive. I would like to see it in person, at least once, I think.ReplyDelete
Very different yet interesting for me, and little creepy because they dress hooded!ReplyDelete
I know, the pointy hoods immediately trigger all sorts of eery mental connections, especially in South Carolina! We're back home, I'm off to catching up on your blogs. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the history...I didn't know anything about this custom. Very cool! and poignant to the subject of the ceremony. Especially the black robes.ReplyDelete
Amazing photos, intriguing history -- I enjoyed this pairing.ReplyDelete
Lola have you taken lessons somewhere on how to describe events so that people become enthralled.ReplyDelete
However, if I saw these people it would scare the beejesus right out of me.
Love Renee xoxo
You make me blush! Grazie...ReplyDelete