Holy Weekend – Easter in Italy

How many of you have ever been to church on Good Friday…you know, the Stations of the Cross service? How many of you have ever seen the Stations of the Cross – live?

Well, now I have.

Last Friday, yes…Good Friday to be exact was A’ Naca in downtown Catanzaro. Held every year, this processional reenacts the Stations of the Cross, stopping momentarily in front of several important churches throughout the city, while circling the downtown area.

We arrived just in time for the beginning – at exactly 4:26 PM. The church was already crowded, and there were several miniature Mary’s dressed for the occasion. There were four 10-foot crosses propped on their sides, and a confessional-full of other props and decorations just waiting to be needed

We waited.

We waited.

We waited.

Finally, we overheard…

“6:00? 6:00? It is going to start at 6:00? How will we keep the children occupied for that long?”

“Children?” I thought.

“How will I keep my husband occupied that long?”

And, so, in typical southern Italian style, we watched with interest the disorganization and scurrying around us. At 6:00, they opened the church doors and I saw this.

Hundreds, if not more, Calabrese anxiously awaiting – despite the cold wind and sub-Easter temps for the processional to begin.

My shock was momentarily distracted by the arrival of the star.

After another half hour, they were ready to begin.

Musicians heralded the commencement of A’Naca, as droves of clergymen and members from the various churches throughout Catanzaro began the processional.

Just before the final Stations, the Bishop appeared, and along with other church officials, read a declaration.

Jesus is raised from the dead, and in undoubtedly the most dramatic point of the event, Catanzaro’s firemen heave the alter above their heads, as the crowd of onlookers gasp in amazement. Everyone cheers and a few women, standing bundled on the blistery steet, dab at their eyes.

The processional ends with Mary, who while rejoicing in the salvation of her son, is carried throughout the streets of Catanzaro, as dozens of young girls, dressed in like-clothing accompany her for the journey.

9 Responses
  1. marina

    The church look’s really pretty!!
    but you are right you waited to long hubby and kids!!
    was it hard learning to speake Italin? I can speake spainsh so maybe that might help me but I know how fast they can talk.marina

  2. Cherrye

    Oh, yes they speak very quickly. I am doing pretty well, but I’m not “there” yet. Sometimes I get sooo tired just listening that I stop trying to understand! lol

  3. Brooke

    You guys have a BUSY Easter!!! And I’ll bet is smelled GREAT in the church after you all waited outside for 2 hours!

  4. andreaunplugged

    What a cool experience, even with the waiting and such. I don’t know anywhere around here that would get packed like that for anything, except if they were giving away something free.

  5. bleeding espresso

    P must’ve just been beside himself when they announced the hour and a half delay….

    You really need to come up here next year for Holy Saturday, provided we give P some allergy pills đŸ˜‰

  6. j

    This is so theatrical. I think it would be laughed out of town where I live, but I can see getting into it. Maybe it’s my Italian genes.

  7. Nadine

    Wow there is lots of people there. I have been to Good Friday service and the stations of the cross, but never have I seen one that is live.

  8. Cherrye

    Arlene – it was actually impossible to hear any of the service they did before the processional. It was insane in there!

    Brooke – ha ha…it was actually opposite! We waited INSIDE the church, then went outside! Otherwise…ouch.

    Andrea, you are right. We couldn’t do this in Beaumont. As with a lot of things in Italy, though, it was a “see and be seen” event. Even the Mayor of CZ was there!

    Michelle – mind you they never announced it! lol I offered to go outside and get a coffee or walk around, but my pazzo didn’t take a jacket, and you know how windy downtown cz is! And, yes. I’d love to go to Badolato next year! (I said that last year, too…) But I would love to go.

    J – It is theatre, alright! I don’t think Texans would appreciate it, either, but it is tradition for them here. You should definitely see it sometime. Next year I plan to stand on the street along the processional – NOT at the beginning!

    Nadine – it was very neat to see, and seriously moving when the firefighters lifted the alter over their heads.

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