The labyrinth of alleys, narrow streets and silent squares, where the clock stopped ticking long ago, provide the imagery and atmosphere that surrounds Toledo for the remembrance of the Passion.
Toledo is an exceptional place to celebrate the Holy Week. The exclusiveness of the atmosphere of this charming Spanish city lies in the similarity of the topographical situation and urban framework of the old part of the city with that of Jerusalem, where the historical events of the Passion of Christ occurred.
The routes of the “floats” through the twists and turns of the streets and alleys of Toledo will give you an insight to the life and times of Christ in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago.
However, these routes are not the best scenario for large or luxurious floats, but the profound yet simple devotion, together with the moderate and introverted character of the people of Toledo, are clearly expressed in the Holy Week celebrated in Toledo, where the austere but deep faith of the people manifests itself in the sobriety of these celebrations.
Many of the “traditional floats” disappeared during the Spanish Civil War, but many ancient images have been recovered during the last few years from the different convents. Said images were carved by hand by the most skilled craftsmen, who used their chisels with great care to create these amazing images but many were abandoned and forgotten in the past. New brotherhoods appeared in Spain and they have been using these images with such a pure traditional and historic character.
The “Cristo de la Esperanza” follows a route on Holy Monday and is surrounded by an almost absolute silence which is only disturbed by the rhythmic banging of the pitch forks of the costaleros (men who carry the floats) on the pavement's pebbles.
Holy Tuesday involves the charismatic image of the “Cristo de la Misericordia”, part of one of the long-standing and respected Brotherhoods, with its origins going back to the 11 th century, La Santa Caridad, and the Convent of the Agustinas or “Las Gaitanas”, part of the “Cristo de los Ángeles”.
On Holy Wednesday, the Brotherhood of the Caballeros de Cristo Redentor departs from the Convento de Santo Domingo el Real. The spectator will feel an overwhelming sensation when witnessing the scene, since the image is trying to stand up after being pushed to the ground by the sheer weight of the cross. After a short period of silence, the bells start ringing and a few verses from the Miserere are then sung.
On Maundy Thursday various images are carried with the beautiful Image of the “Virgen del Amparo”, which is carried under a pallium. The legendary “Cristo de la Vega” appears at midnight, with his right arm free from the bolts that fixed his arm to the cross. Zorrilla's legend called “a good judge will have an even better witness” narrates this scene.
A magnificent parade goes through Toledo on the night of Good Friday, with a procession of 7 brotherhoods with their images. The main gathering place is the Santo Sepulcro, which is guarded by 27 antique armors.
The celebration of the Holy Week in Toledo ends on Easter Sunday with the procession of the “Virgen de la Alegría”.
* Text by Don Rufino Miranda for t-descubre.
- more information at www.semanasantatoledo.com