The immense variety of Roman monuments have been key to achieve the Declaration of International Tourist Interest for the Eastern Week celebrations that this year will be held in Merida with awesome style. Among some of the novelties for this years Week of Passion is the Extraordinary Procession of Good Friday, in the afternoon, which will unite all the Brotherhoods of the city to celebrate the XXV Anniversary of the constitution of the Ecclesiastical Province of Merida –Badajoz and the XL Anniversary of the Board of Brotherhoods.
Merida Prepares and Releases a New GPS Coverage
Additionally, a brand new electronic feature will be implemented for the first time: GPS coverage. The Nazarenes in charge of carrying the Guiding Cross, for each procession, will also carry a GPS that will allow the public to follow every procession in real time. The exact location of all the Brotherhoods will be known at every moment.
Merida smells of incense, rosemary, heather and lavender as Mario Hernandez reminds us, the current spokesmen for the Board of Fraternities, who fought, together with all Merida residents, until the international candidacy was achieved. We must also give special credit to José Maria Alvarez who presided the Board until 1993.
Not Really the Arch of Trajan
Even thou the Arch of Trajan in Merida was constructed during the times of Emperor Augustus (circa 27 B.C), it was remodeled during the times of Tiberius who died in 37 A.C., who was a contemporary of Jesus Nazareth. Which is more in line with the events that are depicted during the Holy Week. The Brotherhoods will pass along side these historical monuments that are contemporary to the events remembered during the processions. This is just an example, as pointed out to us by Mr. Alvarez.
Via Crucis at the Roman Theater
Also, Mr. Alvarez reminds us that few cities in the world can offer a Holy Week with Roman scenes like those of Merida. A hallmark of the city is the celebration of the Way of the Cross-, a collective prayer at dawn on Good Friday inside the Roman Theater.
Flavors, Images, Sounds and Debuts
Eastern week brings unique flavors to Merida. Mario Hernandez reminds us that it tastes like Martyr’s Lemon Candy and vanilla flavored goodies like the “Torrijas”, which is a local version of French Toast. A visit to the “Confitería Gutierrez” a traditional confectionery store is a popular venture during this time of the year.
Alvarez has engraved in his memory, as thousands of Merida residents and visitors, the passage of the Brotherhood of the periphery through the longest Roman bridge in the world. The photo contests sponsored by the Brotherhood have prompted many to get that perfect snapshot at each monument and corner of the city.
Many bands of diverse musical instruments such as cornets, horns and drums come from the whole region, even from Seville.
Make sure to see the whole passage of Nuestra Señora de los Milagros (Our Lady of the Miracles) and the passage of Image of Christ on the banner of the Santísimo Cristo de las Tres Caídas (Holy Christ of the Three Falls) on Holy Wednesday. Another highlight to which you should prepare to listen to is the debut of the March dedicated to the Santísimo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Holy Christ of the True Cross) by Raúl Martín Cruzado, titled “Bajo tu Dulce Mirada” (Under Your Sweet Look).
Sisterhoods and Women Carriers
For years now, in Merida, Brotherhoods ceased to be exclusively masculine to make room for both genders. That is why there are “foremen” that shout with female voices: “to heaven with her”, when raising the images of the Virgin Mary. Also, there are floats in which the entire load is borne by 35 women, as in the case of “Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio” (Our Lady of the Patronage).
Generational Relay and What Should Not Be Missed
Eastern Week in Merida could not keep growing without the indispensable quarry of boys and girls that have their maximum expression, here in Merida, with the Brotherhoods of “Borriquita” and the “Cofradía Infantil”. José María Alvarez believes that with these two organizations the generational relay and vocational feeling is guarantied. Worth highlighting is the continued work and the determined investment by the Board of Brotherhoods, the parish priests, the City Council of Merida and the citizens themselves are doing to maintain and magnify this week of Passion.
Worth seeing the descent of the Christ of Calvary that is subsequently deposited in an urn at the end of the procession to return lying into the streets. Remember that the Pedro Maria Plano Street is now called “Calle del Silencio” (the street of Silence). Remember, the Brotherhood requests the maximum silence and respect during these processions.
The rosemary, the incense, the torrijas and the Martyr candies, the candles and the orange blossoms, the drums and specially the Images and the brother hearts, await you with open arms during the Holy Week of Merida.
Original article by Chus García
Translated by Susana Windt
Published on April2019