Misteri-The holy procession - PhMuseum

Misteri-The holy procession

Antonio Sansica

Sicily is well known for its religious celebrations, one of the most famous is called "I Misteri”, it happens in Trapani during the Easter holy week and it represents “The passion of Christ”.

Trapani oversees the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, its strategic port was the entrance of different dominations: Arabs, Spanish, Normans, Aragoneses, French, Spanish and finally the Bourbons.

It’s known that the Spanish domination and the frequent relations with others Italian port cities brought in Sicily this traditional ceremony, which in the Iberian land was named "teatro de los misterios".

The first ceremony in Trapani dated back to the XVI century and was firstly named “Casazze”, actors and religious personalities originally represented the first ceremonies, although after many centuries, inanimate statues replaced them.

The Misteri symbolize the "Via Crucis" and are the creation of masters craftsmen from Trapani who built initially 18 sculptures with cypress wood, canvas and glue. In the XIX century were added others two representations "Jesus died in the urn" and "Lady of sorrows".

These astonishing sculptures are preserved in the Church of Purgatory in the centre of Trapani and they are constantly restructured and managed by many groups that represent different working class like, fishermen, goldsmiths, barbers, butchers, painters, shoemakers etc...

At 2.00 pm of each Good Friday’s, "I Misteri" leave the Church of Purgatory and starts the procession that will lasts for 24 hours. The members of the groups carry on their shoulders the heavy weight of "I Misteri", followed by the suggestive rhythm of funeral march played by the local folkloristic bands, passing through the narrow streets of the old town center crossing the obscurity of the night and the first lights of the sunrise.

Despite many changes happened during 500 years of history, The “Processione dei Misteri" hasn't lost the spiritual power and the deep attachment to the city, but it is carefully hand down from generations to generations.

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  • A group of men are laying down the heavy "Mistere" for a short break. A small wood made instrument is played in order to call the break.

  • Boys are rehearsing during the first rays of sun. The local marching bands are a fundamental part of the procession, they come from many different towns and are assembled by people of very different ages.

  • Men set down the “Mistere” for a short rest. During the procession the "Misteri" are regularly laid down as they are extremely heavy.

  • Peppe “The drummer” is having a nap in a bar in the old town centre, he is a legendary member of the town’s local band.

  • A component of the procession has stopped for a short break during the evening, still many hours ahead.

  • In the very early morning, men rest in the heart of the old town centre, this is the most suggestive part of the procession.

  • Children joke between the running procession, they are a big part of the event, also playing in the marching bands.

  • Ladies follow one of the most important “Mistere” of the all procession, the “Madonna Addolorata”(Lady of Sorrow). It’s actually the last of the 20 sculptures and is followed by a large number of women.

  • The procession runs trough the old town Centre.

  • A bunch of boys are lighting up their candles before starting the procession, after a night break.

  • A woman, alongside the “Lady of Sorrow”, check her phone during the procession.

  • A component of the procession walks along the procession in the streets of Trapani.

  • Two ladies march along the “Lady of Sorrow” holding candles and postcards of the Virgin Mary


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