Holy Friday Processions in Sorrento
Article and photos by Eduardo Scotti
Among the most impressive and ancient manifestations which take place in the Sorrentine Peninsule, have emerged and become popular the traditional processions of the Holy Friday both for their character of deep religious compassion and for their extraordinary local folklore.
From the sunset of the Holy Thursday to the Holy Friday night which precede Easter, there are about 15 processions that wind among the streets of all the towns of the Sorrentine Peninsule from Vico Equense to Massa Lubrense to recall the mystery of the Passion and Death of Christ.
Besides the various differences between each other, especially in the disposition of the participants and the colour of the gowns, which are mainly white and black, these processions are all characterized by the presence of some common elements such as the hood which covers the face, the torchlights, the lanterns and the “tortures”, the holy images such as Our Lady of Sorrows, Christ in his agony, crucified and then put down from the cross, the choice of the funeral music, the solid partecipation of the choir with various voices, masculine, feminine and mixed, sometimes very impressive who performe the traditional songs of the Passion of Christ and and mainly the “Miserere” of Davide.
Very famous for many years all over the world are the two processions of Sorrento, which many consider at the second place only after the processions pf Siviglia, both for their solemnity and for the great emotion they emit as they pass by.
Born in the 16th century or maybe before, as a penitence and expiation rite which included also an auto flagellation, they have been improved and enriched over the years mostly concerning the choreographic aspect during the influence of the Spanish domination, reaching already in the 16th century their complete and actual splendor.
The so called “White Procession” arranged by the Venerabile Arciconfraternita di S. Monica situated in the Tempio of the SS. Annunziata, winds through the roads of the Centro Storico from 03.00 a.m. to 06.00 a.m. of the Holy Friday and represents according to the tradition the wandering of the Virgin Mother in search of her Son, betrayed, arrested and sentenced to die on the cross.
Late in the evening of the Holy Friday, takes place the “Black Procession” arranged by the Arciconfraternita della Morte e Orazione situated in the Church of the Servi of Maria. This procession is the transport of Christ dead, a splendid wooden sculpture of an unknown artist of the 17th century, followed by Our Lady of Sorrows.
The great silence and the almost complete darkness which
surround the city, the flickering of the torches, the pining and distant
eco of Chopin’s
music, the powerful voice of the choir of over 200 masculine voices
create an atmosphere both sad and triumphal provoking in who assists
a unique and unrepeatable emotion that only these superb Sorrentine
representations evoke and where the authentic values of faith, the ancient
of the fathers jealously kept and passed on to the sons and the sacral
value of the Death are exalted.