The spectacle of faith and folklore
Holy Week in Apulia is a moving experience, embracing religious faith and folk beliefs. The spectacle of sorrow goes on stage in the streets, from the Gargano Promontory to the Salento peninsula, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, preceding Easter Sunday. The most significant events are the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows and of the Naca, the coffin in which Christ’s dead body lies; the reenactment of the Last Supper; the procession of the Mysteries, the statues depicting the scenes from the Passion of the Christ, carried by the devotees on their shoulders.
Some hooded “pilgrims” walk barefoot, bearing heavy wooden crosses or carrying shackles and chains on their feet as penitence. They set out on their picturesque pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchres, keeping a time–honored tradition alive, holding the pilgrim’s staff in one hand and the rosary in the other one. People call them Perduni, Pappamusci or Cruciferi. Their garment consists in a white tunic, a leather belt around the waist, and a processional cape of varied colors depending on the Confraternity they belong to.
In many Apulian towns precious sacred relics follow the statues carried in procession, together with the faithful, that is children, women veiled and dressed in mourning, men wearing an elegant black suit, or the “fracchie”. These enormous torches made from a large trunk filled with tons of pieces of firewood burn along the route where they are dragged on wheels and with iron chains, escorting the Virgin up to the statue of Dead Christ.
Everywhere the stillness is shattered by the sound of the troccola (a characteristic musical instrument like a rattle) and of the funeral marches played by the local bands.