Friday, April 10, 2009

Viernes Santo

Holy Friday in San Salvador: we went downtown, to el centro, for the big procession, which includes (from top to bottom):
Vivid alfombras (carpets) made of colored sand and grains that will be erased as the procession passes over it. The one at top, by the FMLN, shows President-elect Mauricio Funes and Barack Obama with Oscar Romero and Rutilio Grande - and it includes a U.S. flag.
The police were working hard on their alfombra as we passed by - no separation of church and state as in the United States.
We stopped at the 6th station of the cross, where Jesus meets Veronica, who wipes his face with her towel. Jesus with his cross is carried by a huge platoon of men; the icon of Veronica is carried out from a side street to "meet" him; when they meet, Veronica bows, and the image of Jesus' face is revealed.
Men carry the heavy cross on this long, slow procession (it goes on for about 4 hours); women carry the female figures - Mary, Veronica, Mary Magdalene.
The penitentes who are the organizers of the procession wear purple robes and hoods - disconcertingly reminiscent of the KKK robes to a North American viewer.
Some penitents walked the via crucis barefoot and blindfolded; others crawled on hands and knees, also blindfolded, with family or friends moving pieces of cardbord to keep their knees from being shredded.
This final alfombra was created by a youth group.

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