Holy Week processions in Mendrisio


Category:
Social practices
  • Performing arts
Canton:

Description

The Holy Week processions, which are documented as far back as the second half of the 17th century, make their way through the old town of Mendrisio on the evenings of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The street lights are turned off specially so that the lanes can be bathed in the soft light given off by vast, illuminated pictures called "transparenti" dipinti traslucidi in tela montata su “casse” illuminate dall’interno, di forme e dimensioni diverse, che sovrastano il percorso della processione that hang above the entire route and depict scenes from the Gospels and the Old Testament. On the evening of Maundy Thursday, dozens of amateur players act out the Passion of Christ in a series of scenes based on the Gospels. Their performances feature horsemen, Roman soldiers and biblical figures in lavish costumes. La sfilata è caratterizzata dalla mancanza di dialoghi tra i personaggi, i quali si limitano a esprimersi tramite gesti e atteggiamenti silenziosi.

The simple and formal Good Friday procession is imbued with a more pronounced spirituality. More than 600 members of the various brotherhoods and church associations take part, marching through the streets with statues of the dead Christ and the grieving Virgin Mary, before which onlookers bow down. The procession is accompanied by three companies of musicians playing solemn funeral marches, with herald drummers on horseback leading the way and bringing up the rear. The Holy Week processions are preceded by the "Settenario", a church ceremony dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Image gallery

  • Good Friday: carrying the statue of the dead Jesus © Adriano Heitmann
  • Settenario in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows in the church of St John the Baptist © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: members of the High Council demand that Jesus be condemned © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: King Herod on horseback © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Roman solider with a black banner proclaiming “Crucifige Eum” © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Roman solider © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Jesus with the cross © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the High Council, who allowed Jesus to be buried in his tomb © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: statue of Our Lady of Sorrows with a triptych, a large and illuminated picture, hanging above the procession route in the background © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: members of the Brotherhood with objects and transparenti relating to the story of the Passion © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: carrying the statue of the dead Jesus © Adriano Heitmann
  • Settenario in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows in the church of St John the Baptist © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: members of the High Council demand that Jesus be condemned © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: King Herod on horseback © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Roman solider with a black banner proclaiming “Crucifige Eum” © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Roman solider © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Jesus with the cross © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Jesus collapses under the weight of the cross © Adriano Heitmann
  • Maundy Thursday: Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the High Council, who allowed Jesus to be buried in his tomb © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: children with transparenti © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: statue of Our Lady of Sorrows with a triptych, a large and illuminated picture, hanging above the procession route in the background © Adriano Heitmann
  • Good Friday: members of the Brotherhood with objects and transparenti relating to the story of the Passion © Adriano Heitmann

Video

Maundy Thursday procession, Mendrisio, 2011 © Feliciano Bernasconi et al., 2011

Good Friday procession, Mendrisio, 2011 © Feliciano Bernasconi et al., 2011

References and documentation

Publications
  • Giorgio Lazzeri, Renzo Petraglio: I trasparenti di Mendrisio. Storia dei quadri notturni della passione. Bellinzona, 1995

  • Giorgio Lazzeri, Mario e Flavio Medici, Alberto Nessi, Amleto Pedroli: Le processioni storiche di Mendrisio. Locarno, 1998

  • Interviste (a cura di Alessandra Bobbià): Giovanni Poma (13.07.2011, 18.07.2011), Rodolfo Bernasconi (09.07.2011, 13.07.2011). Centro di dialettologia e di etnografia. Bellinzona

  • Mario Medici: Le processioni della Settimana Santa a Mendrisio. Mendrisio, 1946

  • Mario Medici: Sagre del Mendrisiotto. Mendrisio, 1967

  • Mario Medici: Storia di Mendrisio. Mendrisio, 1980

  • Carlo Solcà, Gian Paolo Minelli: La manifestazione sacra di Coldrerio. Coldrerio, 1995

Documentation