Saturday, 17 June 2017

Festal Weekend, Day One

This morning, I completed my Sunday sermon, and found liturgical material in my web archive to send to a couple whose wedding blessing at Verbier in September I have to prepare for by email. It is never possible to know until there's a meeting how much understanding a couple may have of the church wedding ceremony in order to select readings and music. When they work with a wedding arranger there's always a risk that they will be sold a pre-conceived notion of what is the right thing to do, which can sometimes devalue the nature of the ceremony and undermine its dignity. 

Having said that, the earlier the preparation process is fully informed by a copy of the authorised liturgy and the texts of scripture readings to choose from, the better it works out on the day. There are suitable pieces of poetry that can be read, but there's also stuff devised by a relative or a friend that's more appropriate for the wedding reception than the ceremony. Devising the explanatory email to accompany liturgical attachments took a lot longer than tracking down material to send.

During the day, I could hear the sound of un-amplified live music and conversation rising from the alley next to the apartment block. When I went out to do some weekend food shopping, I noticed a small blackboard with a notice handwritten in chalk declaring 'La Rueda Morada Festa', and could see several people standing around eating and drinking outside the front door of a house in the Calle Girona. A quick Google search took me to a Facebook page of the same name. 

This informed me that it's part of a series of open house alternative grassroots cultural events held in the city which are advertised by social networking. The music I could hear was a guitar and 'cello duo improvising in flamenco fusion mode. Delightful. I suppose I could have dropped in as a vecino, and tried out my Spanish, but most of the people at the gathering were less than half my age, and knowing where to start a conversation and what to talk about would not be easy, even if I had the words. It's not just the generation gap, but also the manner of speech, plus the likelihood that some would be only too willing to practice their English on me! So, call me a coward if you must, but I just stayed in and enjoyed the music through the open window while I worked instead. 

After shopping, cooking lunch and a siesta, I walked to the Old Town in search of what promised to be a big religious procession, or two. This weekend is the Fiesta of Malaga's two patron saints, the martys Cirico and Paula, as well as the deferred observance of Corpus Christi. Finding out what happens when was initially difficult, the information in the media was a bit vague, although the Archdiocesan website led me in the right direction. Dos Santos is an important civic occasion, thus attended by city processional guilds, and marching bands. A Corpus Christi procession around the streets of the Old Town, centering on the Cathedral is bound to be a diocesan event. Therein lies a conflict of interest for many of the processional guilds, I suspect, and a need for diplomacy to sort out who does what. I was amused to learn on-line that the Dos Santos procession has to start half an hour later than advertised due to a wedding booking which escaped the information loop.

It took me a little while to recall exactly where the Iglesia de los Dos Santos is located in the warren of Old Town back streets, which I visited only a few days ago. Tonight all streets were crowded with smartly dressed people, making their paseo, going out to dine or headed for church, and everywhere looks different when it's full of people. Eventually I heard the sound of a band down a streets with a gathering crowd. The procession had just begun to leave the church, and it involved hundred of people dressed in their Sunday best, or in uniforms or vestments, many were carry staves of office holders in their various guilds. 

When the huge trona, bearing the image of the two Martyrs emerged from the church, carried by a squad of fifty white shirted men, there was a loud fanfare of trumpets and applause from onlookers. A group of women of a certain age in white dresses with fragrant white flowers in their hair sang a traditional cancion in honour of the saints and the city, and one of them danced with great pride and elegance. It was a moment of great joy and delight. I stayed until the church doors were shut behind the procession, then made my way back to the Cathedral, as I'd read about the Corpus Christi Festa starting at nine this evening in a special way.

Shortly after the appointed hour a team of trumpeters in old style uniforms with plumed hats began to appear from a door on a balcony at the corner of the south west tower (the one never completed), and one by one, they gingerly made their way to the central part of the balcony, some thirty metres up on the facade of the Cathedral west front. A dizzy height from which to play a series of fanfares to announce the start of the Blessed Sacrament vigil, which concludes with tomorrow evening's procession. I'm not surprised that the playing exhibited a certain nervousness. The Cathedral west plaza is another five metres down steps below the west door. An ordeal for the inexperienced.

After this, I realised I hadn't eaten enough, and was tired after several hours of walking, so I headed slowly back to the apartment, starting to think about the logistics of the trip to Velez Malaga to celebrate the Eucharist tomorrow. The Festa in Calle Girona must have finished on time, as all was as quiet as usual when I got back.

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