Semana Santa 2000

Holy Week in Spain

This is an account of a special visit to Spain which we had planned for some years once John had finished singing in the Choir.

TronoWe were staying with Doreen in her lovely apartment on the Costa del Sol. We were privileged to see a selection of the very special celebrations held there each year during Holy Week (Easter Week as they call it). This started on Palm Sunday when we joined the local villagers of Arroyo to see the congregation emerging from the Church and parade through the village with the band, children carrying huge palm and olive branches following the first of the many tronos we were to see. A trono is a large type of float, carried shoulder high by up to 250 young man (apparently they have their names put down at birth for this honour). These tronos carry religious figures and are decorated with beautiful flowers and some with candles.

PenitentsOur next experience was a day in Malaga where we visited churches to see the tronos being decorated ready for the evening processions. In the afternoon we arrived at the Church of San Juan where a large crowd had gathered. At 4.30pm the procession emerged, trono number one was of Christ on the way to the cross, the trono decorated with irises and the bearers in purple robes. Trono number two was of Christ being roped to the cross, the trono decorated with red carnations and red robed bearers. Trono number three was of Christ on the cross with white flowers and white robed bearers. All these tronos were accompanied by a band and penitents - members of the brotherhood with faces covered with pointed “klu klux klan” type of head gear with only slits for their eyes, some wearing hair shirts and bare footed. Each brotherhood had a different colour robe to match the flowers on the trono. The final trono was of the lady Virgen del Mayor Delor. The whole procession took an hour to emerge possibly with some two thousand people from a church about the size of St Peter’s. When each trono emerged this was to the accompaniment of cheers and clapping from the crowd.

We saw many more processions during the evening where the tronos were larger and magnificently decorated with flowers and candles which burned brightly in the darkness.

Our final experience was to attend the El Paso on Good Friday which is the journey of Christ to the Cross as depicted by members of Beldalmadena Pueblo (the lovely little village in the mountains above the apartment). This was enacted in the form of many tableaux in a most beautiful setting in the mountains with the sea as a back drop. This started in the days of Abraham and depicted many biblical scenes up to the betrayal by Judas Iscariat and the hanging, the trial and judgment by Pontius Pilate, Jesus carrying the cross which culminated in the Crucifixion scene. Spanish flamenco singing accompanied the play and also the music of Mozart’s Coronation Mass. This was a most moving experience for all of us.

That evening we joined the population of Arroyo in their Good Friday procession which again included bands, penitents and two more very beautifully decorated tronos.

Added enjoyment earlier in the holiday was a three day trip to Madrid to see this beautiful city of architecture and museums.

John and June Lord, Doreen Webb
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 4th June 2000