Easter in Puglia | the procession of the Mysteries
Pasqua (Easter) is probably the most celebrated religious festival in Italy. During Holy Week the church abandons any semblance of modernity to embrace symbolic religious ritual and tradition.
Settimana Santa starts on Domenica delle Palme (Palm Sunday) and ends on Easter Sunday.
Solemn events celebrating the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are held all across Puglia: Palm Sunday, the Sepolcri on Holy Thursday and the Processione dei Misteri on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. The rites vary from town to town according to local traditions and beliefs. They are steeped in history and instilled deep in faith.
Even for non-catholics these displays of faith can be moving and emotional.
Francavilla Fontana is a good place to experience Good Friday, with the atmospheric procession of the Mysteries. At night the congregations from all the town’s churches meet in procession starting from the madre chiesa.
At the head of the procession are papier machè statues representing the different stations of the Passion.
There follow the Pappamusci. Barefooted and in hooded gowns so they cannot be recognised, these are citizens of Francavilla showing their penitence for sins committed over the past year. They carry heavy full wooden crosses.
The procession is closed by the statue of the Dead Christ carried by the brothers of the Death followed by the Mayor, Carabiniere chief, and other dignitaries.