Saturday, 19 April 2014

Holy Saturday and the Virgen de Soledad

A quiet day, time to rest and prepare an Easter sermon. The family took themselves off to Fuengirola Zoo for the afternoon, and I stayed at home, and watched yesterday's late night Semana Santa Good Friday footage from both Malaga and on the local TV channel, from Fuengirola itself. There's such a lot to reflect upon in sight of large communities of people supporting those processing with the tronas belonging to their local barrio

Someone I was speaking to remarked that there were many atheists as well as believers among the hombres de trono, as respect for tradition motivated many to play their part, just as witnessing to their faith motivated others. I wonder if there's any dialogue between them? An exercise in collaboration  on this scale, involving a hundred to two hundred and fifty people is hardly a seasonal effort. It requires practice and discipline throughout the year to walk together bearing a heavy burden for hours on end, and ensure there's a rising generation of recruits the right size, fit and strong enough to take part.

It's interesting to see that there are tronos carried by teams from military regiments, police and fire brigade. Every outfit has its crowd of supporters, and are applauded for their efforts when they stop or negotiate obstacles. The TV footage shows that many if not most of the tronos pass through the Cathedral, where they are blessed as part of their journey. 

The tronos paraded on Good Friday portray the last hour of Christ's life, his death, taking down from the cross and burial. The crowd is less exuberant, and on occasions stands silent. I was told that the street lights are dimmed or extinguished at a certain moment, although this wasn't a feature of the TV re-runs that I saw. Every procession features an image from the passion of Christ and an image of the Virgin Mary under one of her many names and functions, characteristic of Spanish Catholic devotion. Understanding the distinctions for someone not raised in this spiritual tradition is an quite exercise in interpretation. 

After watching the Malaga processions and then later those of Fuengirola, there was one image of Mary I saw that stood out among the others for me: Nuestra Senora de Soledad our Lady of Solitude. Mart stands at the foot of the empty cross her arms open downwards in a gesture of abandonment and desolation. There are ornate versions and occasionally one that's relatively simple. It's the gesture that speaks however, no matter how much the image is dressed up or dressed down.

On my way to collect Clare from the zoo visit, I noticed the Los Boliches casa hermanidad was open and the image of Cristo resucitado was in the process of being decorated for tomorrow's procession. It hadn't been there last time I passed by, so it was a surprise to see it squeezed in between the other two tronos housed there.
It was lovely to see the care and attention being lavished on the decoration of the trono, and the obvious pleasure this gave to the cofradia hermanos, working together.
I couldn't find much useful information about celebrations of the Easter Vigil in Fuengirola. Maybe it's not made as much of in this part of the world as in others. Disappointing for me, as this is one of my favourite moments of the entire Christian year. I found the Pope's Easter Vigil Mass at St Peter's Rome, streaming live on You Yube, but it was nearly over when I discovered it, the service having started earlier in the evening than I would have expected. Later I read the Paschal Vigil scripture readings on iBreviary, the best I could do in the circumstances.

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