Easter processions here are organized by the “Hermandades y Cofradías de Penitencia” – religious brotherhoods of lay people.


The “Hermandad de la Macarena y la de Jesús del Gran Poder” organizes this massive annual procession from the Iglesia de San Agustín.


The procession starts from the Plaça de San Agustín and goes to the Barcelona cathedral and back.


One paso – float – has a large wooden effigy of Christ carrying the cross.


The other is the Virgin Mary. As she emerges from the church she is greeted as if she is alive – “Viva la Reina! Guapa! Guapa!”


It reminds me of crowds flocking to see Princess Diana; the Madonna signifies compassion, hope, and beauty. The enthusiasm and excitement as she passes is tangible. Some women are moved to tears.


Each paso is carried by 30-50 “costaleros,” like a litter.  They are incredibly heavy and the men have to take breaks every few minutes – a “llamador” knocks on the float to signal a pause. 


This procession meets another from the Iglesia de Sant Jaume in front of the Barcleona cathedral eight hours later.


It is a breath-taking experience …


On the Sunday I went to the Mass at the Cathedral. Another amazing sight.

At first they didn’t want to let me in – then they wouldn’t let me out. There’s only so much the Church will tolerate from a pagan like me.

But that story’s for another day …

Holy Week, Easter, Spain

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About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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  1. susielindau says:

    Amazing! We were in Panama for Easter in 2002. Their procession was very cool! Those hat/masks are terrifying!

    • Susie, I notice the women carry their hats under their arm so they don’t mess up their hair! They do look like Klan members though don’t they? Apparently the origins go back to medieval times – it’s still pretty spooky especially when the music stops and they just march in dead silence …

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