Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter in the Southern Med

Easter in this Roman Catholic community was magnificent.

On Friday, a mile-long traditional procession carried statues commemorating salient episodes from the Way of the Cross from our beautiful local church all around the town. Took 4 hours, and was assisted by 3 bands playing suitably solemn music. Each statue was carried on 4 or 5 rails, and each rail rested on the shoulder of one man at the front and one at the back. The bearers used the coffin-carrying technique - rail on shoulder, arm braced across the shoulders of man next to you, and a slow, swaying, shuffling step.

The costumes were fabulous, helped by the fact that the people here look much like I imagine the people of the Holy land did. Participants were between 4 and 80 years old, and the dress was historically accurate: Roman infantry with ceremonial armor fronted by huge SPQR Imperial standards, Pontius Pilate with his full legal retinue, dismounted charioteers, all the disciples, and groups of barefoot penitents dragging chains and clad completely in white robes with hoods containing just eye-holes.

The entire population turned out to watch this, and people were appropriately restrained given the grim event being re-enacted.

Today, Sunday, marks the Resurrection, and was much more cheerful. The band of the Scouts (boys and girls) got to march at the head of a parade at the church - Mrs G and I have fond memories of such marches when we were kids. After Mass, there was a daytime firework display, reminiscent of a heavy mortar barrage. Come to think of it, it was a heavy mortar barrage, they just pre-exploded with fragmentation.

A huge demonstration of community solidarity, affirmation of faith, moral mentoring and plain fun.