Good Friday Morning in Assisi: That Evocative Procession
Assisi’s Good Friday evocative evening Processione del Cristo Morte is not to miss.
But I feel the same about the Good Friday morning procession which winds out of the Cathedral of San Rufino about 8 a.m.
Just ask tour guests Judy and Grady and Mike, too, who joined me that morning.
As I arrived at San Rufino, some of the crociferi (“cross-bearers”) were hurrying to the cathedral, carrying the wooden crosses they’d bear.
They’d be barefoot and also hooded for the procession, believing that true penance is linked to the hiding of one’s identity.
A few barefoot crociferi were already hooded and chatting with friends in front of San Rufino:
Just inside the central door of the cathedral, caped members of the various Assisi confraternities (religious medieval brotherhoods) sat quietly in prayer around the Cristo Deposto, the 16th-century “Deposed Christ,” taken off the Cross Holy Thursday night in the evocative Scavigliazione ceremony.
Cloaked confratelli (literally, “co-brothers”) were outside the main door of the cathedral near the gray-caped drummer, ready to pound a mournful funeral dirge, setting the slow rhythmic beat of the procession: the Cristo Deposto would be carried to the Basilica di San Francesco on the opposite side of Assisi, with stops at a couple cloistered convents.
Judy (in green jacket) mingled with the locals and confraternity members outside of the church….
The Cristo Deposto was soon lifted onto shoulders of confratelli and carried out of the church…
…the drummer and the crociferi preceding…
…with confratelli following…
…and nuns and priests preceding the funeral bier bearing the Cristo Deposto….
…as well as the bishop:
And as the procession headed out from the cathedral,…
…awaiting locals, too, joined in. The solemn, mournful pounding of the drum was the only interruption to the Assisi morning silence as all headed into the meandering medieval backstreets.
On Holy Thursday night as well as that morning, bunches of flowers had been left as tribute, placed in Christ’s hands and all around Him:
Hoping to be at one of the Poor Clares’ convents before the arrival of the Cristo Deposto, we four headed into Assisi’s charming backstreets, meeting no one, surrounded by silence:
Stunning views of the valley spread out below Assisi:
As we walked, I pointed out aspects of the medieval architecture, sharing information on restoration following the 1997 earthquake:
We soon neared the Santa Croce convent of cloistered Poor Clares (many of them German) where Judy and Grady posed for a photo for me:
A terracotta image of St. Francis receiving the Stigmata in 1224 reigned over the convent entrance:
…while Mike photographed the nuns’ Madonna surrounded by a floral tribute:
A smiling nun opened for me the convent chapel where the Cristo Deposto would be venerated by the community…and then went in to kneel in prayer.
Their Blessed Virgin to the right of the altar was shrouded in the black of death, as appropriate on Good Friday:
The procession soon arrived, the nuns outside to greet the Cristo Deposto, one even snapping a picture of the anticipated arrival:
Cristo Deposto was carried inside for adoration by the cloister Poor Clares. The populace awaited outside and confratelli arranged the flowers on the bier……..
……in preparation for the final leg of the procession: to the Basilica di San Francesco.
Two nuns smiled and waved as the procession headed off towards the nearby Basilica di San Francesco:
Judy was close behind the red canopied bier as the procession headed into the backstreets…
The Cristo Deposto was set down just before the altar of the Lower Basilica of St. Francis….
…so that the faithful could stop for a prayer throughout the day…..
The crucifix over the altar was shrouded for this day of mourning.
Good Friday night, la Madre Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Mother”) statue…….
…..would be carried out of the Cathedral of San Rufino and through the torchlit winding backstreets to the Basilica…and her Son.
Both would then be carried back to the Cathedral.
Only the slow, steady, booming pounding of the drum would break the Assisi silence.
Click here to read about the Holy Thursday Scavigliazione ceremony
Read more about the Scavigliazione.
See the ceremony of la Scavigliazione
Read more about the famed punto Assisi
Click here to read about Good Friday morning