You're either a Semana Santa fan or you get out of town every time it rolls round. Luckily for me, my friend Kim of Becoming Sevillana is a fan. And even more fortunately, she had managed to find herself a crew of capillita boys to guide her around the 2014 processions. It turns out there are fans, and there capillitas. A capillita is a Semana Santa devotee, someone who considers this their favourite week of the year, and in this case, someone whose knowledge of Holy Week is almost encyclopaedic. A group of smart young gents who had clearly absorbed every detail printed in El Llamador (the guide to Semana Santa in Sevilla), these guys didn't just know the best places to see the processions, they knew the shortcuts between them, the sculptors of the figures, the number of members of each of the hermandades, and the inside leg measurements of the costaleros. OK, I lied about the last one.
During an evening's procession watching (and marvelling at the capillitas' knowledge), I realized that Sevilla does Semana Santa on a different scale. Not surprising, when you consider that there are over 60 cofradías in Sevilla, with thousands of members between them. Given the huge numbers of nazarenos, it can take over an hour from seeing the cruz de guía at the start of the procession for the entire thing to pass by. Then there's the pasos themselves: some were on a par with those I'd seen in towns around the region, but others were so much grander, more opulent, more magnificent.
After more than five hours of dashing from procession to procession, I was about ready to call it a night. But the boys assured us that there was one moment we simply couldn't miss: the entrada of the Virgen de la Soledad into the Iglesia de San Lorenzo. In Sevilla, each procession leaves from its church to make its way to the cathedral, where the pasos are blessed, before making its way back 'home'. During the week, I had seen expectations mount and emotions run high at numerous salidas, but I hadn't seen any processions return to the church. The return of La Soledad has a great significance in Seville's Semana Santa: it marks the symbolic end of Holy Week before Resurrection Sunday (Easter Sunday). Hundreds of people turn out at midnight to see the procession make its way back home for another year. We secured a spot close to the door of the church and waited. The first flames of the nazarenos' candles floated into view, and the procession gradually wove its way through the darkness towards us.
|La Soledad de San Lorenzo approaches the church|
|La Virgen de la Soledad de San Lorenzo|
|Until next year|
All photos by Juanma Sánchez, who is much better with a camera than me.
*palio = canopy Follow my blog with Bloglovin