The procession of the Holy Friday
The procession of the Holy Friday, one of the religious manifestations more complex and archaic, recurs every year. The tortuous streets of Bronte that become a big stage in which, with intense, deeply felt religiosity, is played the Passion and the Death of Christ. Always intense and spontaneous is the collective participation supported by strong emotions and religious feelings.
It dates back to past centuries but traditionally it is still and
always lived with the mind concentrated on the religious drama, with
the intense and spontaneous collective participation, accompanied
by strong emotions and a deep Christian feeling.
The Brontesi and the numerous strangers who gather together along
the main course and in the other streets covered by the procession,
relive each year with religiousness and emotion always new emotions
and inner situations.
Already from the morning, rigorous to an old popular proverb (“u vènniri non si canta canzùni, ca si pensa a la motti e a la passiùni”)
is silence, do not sing and do not laugh, the bells do not ring
because they were « related »on Thursday.
As a sign of sadness, only the woody sound of the "tròccola" (photo
on the right) and the drums can be heard.
In the first afternoon of every Holy Friday, the narrow country town streets get slowly crowded with believers that in bare feet carry candles, ancient confraternities with their flags (black edged) and the crucifixes adorned with the first fruits of the earth, of statues representing the passion of Christ, of altar boys, of figures and personages, singles or in groups, everyone with a precise part to play.
With the same devotion and the faith of every year, the procession goes on with a centuries old direction and itinerary that, except some very small adjustment, have been handed down by our ancestors.
The procession beginss
at four o'clock P.M. from the church of Madonna del Riparo with the exit of Christ burdened on the cross.
A little further, in the Capuchin Church, joins in the urn with the Christ Dead, followed by the confraternity of the Third Order of San Francesco (founded in the year 1863). Along Corso Umberto join the procession from San Silvestro's church, the confraternity of Maria SS. della Misericordia (instituted in the far 1616) and, from the Church of Maria SS. della Catena, that of S. Carlo Borromeo.
Gradually the participation of the devout believers and of the personages becomes ever larger. In a following one another of parts of an only act, in every church a new multitude joins the procession, that become at the end the complete representation of the passion of Christ.
About one hour after starting, in front of the Church of Matrice, get into the procession the statue of the Madonna Addolorata, the various personages of the passion and the confraternity of the SS. Sacramento (one of the more ancient, about 1600).
The procession proceeds till Gagini square: from the church of the Annunciated with the statue of Christ tied to the Column and the confraternity of Jesus and Mary (1700).
The sacred representation is now complete
Everyone plays with fervor and devotion his own part and, among the crowd and the waving of the statues, the getting on is slow and hard through the narrow streets of the ancient quarters of Bronte.
The procession winds in the streets of the inner center going on again, in the tortuous and narrow little streets of Bronte, with a sequence of scenes, of symbols and of religious representations, all the more dramatic moments of Christ's passion.
Veiled and white dressed young girls carry and show all the symbols of the passion (the chalice, the cross, the nails, the sponge, the step ladder, the spear …). A saint Michael Archangel proceeds slowly, at rhythmic step, beaten by the monotonous rhythm of a drum.
It is represented Christ tied and dragged by the violence of the Roman soldiers, Christ, bent down, carrying the cross helped by the small Cireneo, the blows of the soldiers.
In religious silence the three "pious women" walk with the face covered by long hair, the Apostles (excluded Judas), the local clergy, all the authorities, the confraternities and the associations and all the people of Bronte.
The sacred images, adorned with flowers, with the first fruit of the season, stay over long wooden poles and are carried on the shoulders by hundreds of believers, (many come back on purpose to Bronte for this traditional devotion).
The crowd of believers that follow every single statue, (many of them bare feet) interrupts the passing, one after another of the scenes: (Christ to the column, the Crucifix, the urn with the body, the Grieved Lady), giving some pause to the intense emotion that touches everybody's hearth.
The religious silence and the prayers are interrupted by the shouts of the
persons that carry on their shoulders the statues: under the Christ to the Column or the Addolorata (Grieved Lady) there are over eighty people, with no shoes, tightly pressed one against the other, carrying the sacred images.
Extol with white handkerchiefs
risen in unison and invoke continuously divine graces shouting with one voice, in the traditional brontese dialect: