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Santo Encuentro y Santo Entierro

Woman in mourning during the Holy Burial

Virgen de la Soledad en el Santo Entierro

The parish priest, yearly carries a cross for the Holy Encounter

Maestro Divino

Some Holy Week Processions Focus on the Specific Details of Jesus’s Passion

By Jesús Aguado

Perhaps one of the oldest Holy Week processions is one that remembers a particularly devout priest who used to carry a cross annually from Atotonilco to San Miguel de Allende. This procession, representing of the Passion of Christ, features several of the traditional parts of the Stations of the Cross.

The tradition was started in 1756 by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro, who was known for carrying the cross between the two towns. These days, modern-day pilgrims emulate this, carrying the same cross from Atotonilco to San Miguel, but overall, the procession has evolved.

This religious event starts at 11am on Good Friday (Apr 19), with the arrival of pilgrims from Atotonilco carrying the cross. At 11:30am, pilgrims reenact the mock trial of Jesus, with Christ being represented by a statue called Our Lord of Eccehomo (a representation of the Christ suffering the Passion).

This first station recalls Jesus’s condemnation by Pontius Pilate. Afterward, a statue of the Virgin Mary is transported from the Parroquia to the Portal de Guadalupe.

At noon, the procession leaves from the Parroquia, headed by an image of St Roque, the patron of the Brotherhood of St Roque, which de Alfaro founded. St Roque is followed by girls wearing white and spreading aromatic herbs and flowers along the path, 12 barefoot men wearing roughly woven garments and crowns of thorns, and 12 more carrying skulls. Men dressed as Roman soldiers flank the procession.

The Lord of Eccehomo, which 12 men carry, continues the procession. Behind that procession, the parish priest appears, carrying Father de Alfaro’s cross. The parish priest is flanked by two men portraying the thieves Dismas and Gestas, tied to a piece of wood and followed by a blood-stained Nazarene dating from the eighteenth century and created at de Alfaro’s request. The statue has a special mechanism that allows the head to move.

Also carried in the procession are statues of St John, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Cleophas, and St Veronica.

The high point of the procession, the Holy Encounter, comes after the statues reach the Portal Allende. The Holy Encounter marks when Mary meets her son on the road to Calvary. When the Nazarene arrives at Portal Allende, the Virgin Mary is transported from the Portal of Guadalupe to the center of the Plaza Principal, and they finally meet. Jesus raises his head three times.

The Holy Burial

It is something beautiful that needs to be photographed,” says Father Josué Alejandro Rodríguez from the Oratorio of San Felipe Neri of the reenactment of the Holy Burial.

This procession began as a way for the priest Luis Juan Antonio Pérez de Espinosa to teach the illiterate indigenous peoples about the Passion of Christ, says Rodríguez, “with sounds, images, and perfume.”

Jesus, it is said, died on the cross at 3pm. And so the procession leaves from the Oratorio at 5pm and returns as darkness falls.

The funeral procession leaves at 6pm from the Oratorio on Good Friday, featuring a statue of Christ of the Expiration, representing the dead body of Christ. A line of Romans opens the march. watching over Jesus’s grave to be sure that the corpse is not stolen.

Behind the soldiers, girls in white carry statues of angels and pieces of canvas with images of the artifacts of the Passion, such as the nails, the crown of thorns, and the dice used by the Romans to gamble for Christ’s clothes. They are flanked by a line of women wearing clothes of deep mourning and carrying lanterns. Then the recumbent corpse of Jesus Christ arrives. Behind his coffin follow a group of Oratorio priests.

Finally, there is the Virgin of Solitude, another representation of the Virgin Mary, alone after the death of her husband, St Joseph, and her son. That statue, wearing a large velvet cloak, is carried by women who are part of an organization called Esclavitud Lauretana. This statue of the Virgin appears in public only for this procession and is exhibited on Holy Saturday in the Santa Casa de Loreto. The rest of the year, the statue remains in the Oratorio sacristy.

The procession ends with the images of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who carries a document in which Pontius Pilate authorized him to take Christ down from the cross and bury him.


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