Earlier this week I was in Spain visiting family, and on Monday evening when we were heading home from our disatrous attempt at a pub quiz (in English and we were still poor!) we quite literally bumped into a procession. Below are some pictures from it, do bear in mind that this was 11.30pm and it was very dark!
What looks like the grim reaper carrying a statue of who we assumed is Mary
Ku Klux Klan look-a-likes!
part of the procession followed by one of three independent bands!
This to us all seemed so bizarre and a little bit scary, like walking into the chamber of secrets or somewhere else a bit freaky, so we asked around it it turns out that this is part of the Spanish celebration of Holy Week (Semana Santa) and each town will do something different to commerate Holy Week. The town we were in had processions like this pretty much every evening this week and of the two we saw I was really shocked by the number of people who turned out and were involved (basically the whole town) and that it was taken so solemnly.
I did some internet research and found out that the pictures above are from the Procesión de los Escapularios which according to google translate means Procession of the scapulars. That didn’t help me too much…so wikipedia … which says “scapular typically consists of two small (usually rectangular) pieces of cloth, wood or laminated paper, a few inches in size which may bear religious images or text. These are joined by two bands of cloth and the wearer places one square on the chest, rests the bands one on each shoulder and lets the second square drop down the back”. Basically it appears to be a variation on a necklace in some ways, but one which the wearer will benefit from certain promises when they die if they are wearing it.
The second procession we saw (Tuesday, after hanging around the town square trying to work out what was happening!) was called Procesión del Traslado, the procession of the transfer. This makes slightly more sense to me as the statues (or more accurately floats as they reminded me of carnival floats we used to have when I was a child!) represented the risen Jesus, Jesus carrying the cross and Jesus on the cross. Being a Catholic celebration there were also two statues of Mary which I don’t fully understand the significance of.
Jesus being carried towards the Roman guards who you can’t quite make out in this picture
people in pointy hats!
Jesus carrying the cross
Mary (AKA Queen Victoria!) on a huge float
It really was amazing to see the whole town come out to celebrate the message of Easter together – in someways it felt like a huge Nativity play but without words – just music and with young and old participating. The real sadness for me though was that there was so much emphasis on Mary. Her statues and the attention paid to her were so much more than to Jesus. Jesus is the one that has dealt with our sin, it is him who has given us the chance to be back in relationship with God – not Mary. She wasn’t God, so wasn’t sinless, she was just another human being used in a very special way by God. In the same way, the preoccupation with scapular and other religious objects is really sad especially in the light of the glory of the gospel – why be tied to a piece of fabric your whole life in the hope of dying whilst wearing it, when we can know right now that through the blood of Jesus on the cross we can be right with God. Because he rose from the dead we can be sure that all he promised is true and have complete certainty – that is so much more better news than anything else the world has to offer!
So, this Easter let’s focus on Him – maybe you never have. Well why not have a look into some of the evidence etc here.