Easter liturgies have incorporated early forms of performances and role-playing – varying from short text passages to long presentations – since the tenth century.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Passion plays grew into elaborate performances. Called in Italy, “sacre rappresentazioni” (“sacred rapresentations”), the combination of liturgy, ritual and theatrical performances often became veritable parts of a liturgical rite – and frequently took to the streets in the form of religious processions.
Like the evocative Processione del Cristo Morto (“Dead Christ Procession) on Good Friday in Gubbio, organized by Confraternita di Santa Croce della Foce. Documented as of the 15th century (but probably existing long before), this confraternity is the only medieval confraternity still existing in Gubbio.
These voluntary associations of lay people had focussed on the promotion of piety and works of Christian charity and these same confraternities acted out the sacred mystery plays in town squares and on the thresholds of the churches so as to bring liturgies to life for the people at significant moments of the ecclesiastical year.
The Madre Dolorosa follows her Son, seeking Him…
And just recently, the Procession was re-routed to include a stop to pay homage at the Mausoleum of the 40 Martyrs.
There will be a pause of 15 minutes for veneration of the Christ at the Pietrone (“Great Stone”) in front of a 14th-century Gubbio civic palace.
Prior to the Processione, vigil lights are lined up in the shape of a cross on this Great Stone, various stories linked to the stone’s origin including perhaps as an altar of the ancient pre-Roman inhabitants of Ikuvium, the Umbri.
The eerie pounding of the battistrangole, the rich symbolism, the haunting singing of the choirs, piety of the people, the fires, the torches, the enthusiastic participation of the eugubini of all ages, and the bellissima medieval scenography of Gubbio all unite to make Gubbio’s Good Friday an event not to miss.
(Mille grazie to Paolo Tosti in Gubbio for use of many of his splendid photos).
Read about the Good Friday nighttime procession in Assisi
Read about the Good Friday morning procession to Assisi’s cloistered Clarisse
Read about the San Quirico Clarisse hiding Jewish refugees in World War II
Click here to read about – and see! – the Holy Thursday scavigliazione ceremony
Click here to see Andrea Cova’s moving photos of Assisi’s Holy Thursday and Good Friday
See the dash of Bevagna’s Cristo risorto here
Click here to see the leap from the ladder and the run of Bevagna’s Cristo morto.