Good Friday – Jesus Sees Mary One Last Time
On Good Friday, there are two major Catholic rituals celebrated in two different churches at different hours. One is the encounter of Jesus with the Virgin Mother on the road to Mount Calvary during the Stations of the Cross that takes place in several streets surrounding the jardin. Upon seeing his mother, the ancient statue of Jesus actually bows his head in sorrow.
Others featured in the processions are Jesus’ friends St. John the Apostle, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Veronica with her veil displaying Jesus’ face. Normally Jesus’ aunt, Mary of Clopas is seen. Also featured are Gestas and the young St. Dismas, the bad and good thieves who died alongside Jesus. Numerous nameless angels represent comfort sent from heaven to aid Mary in her sadness.
St. Roque leads the procession followed by angels and 12 barefoot men wearing roughly woven garments with crowns of thorns on their heads. Next 12 men carry skulls represent the path from death to eternal life. All are guarded by Roman soldiers.
Twelve men carry the statue of Eccehomo with the parish priest carrying an ancient cross used since the 1700’s by Fr. Alfaro .
The second parade began around 1712 and is the Holy Burial procession starting and ending at the Oratorio of San Felipe Neri church late in the afternoon. It begins with groups of women, all dressed in black and high heels, carry flowers and statues of saints. Then young girls in white with feathered angel wings join the parade carrying images of the Passion like nails, crown of thorns, the ladder, the cock, the sponge with vinegar and the dice used by the Romans to gamble for Christ’s clothes. Also the pitcher and bowl with which Pontus Pilate washed his hands is included.
Next are the elegant and colorful statues of the saints and a glass-coffin Jesus with indigenous features, who emerge from the church on only this one day each year. The life-sized figures are carried on platforms and normally head towards the jardin. Other years the procession stays in Plaza Civica.
Angels emerge in to the streets carrying the crown of thorns, the spikes, the sword and Veronica’s veil. Their role is to elicit compassion from the viewing public while assisting Mary with her grief.
An organization called Esclavitud Lauretana bring the image of Mary in a long velvet cloak which will spend Holy Saturday in the Santa Casa de Loreto awaiting visitors to keep her company in this time of mourning.
The last images to emerge are of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who carries a document where Pontius Pilate authorizes him to take Christ down form the cross and bury him. They are surrounded by Roman soldiers to insure Jesus’ body does not get stolen, as Pontius Pilate ordered.
Symbolically the procession returns at sunset when there is only mourning and sadness. Youth choirs sing songs of pain as the voices of the innocents, as pleas to God written exclusively for this event.
There are other popular processions and reenactments today in Colonia San Luis Rey and Atotonilco.