I planned to arrive in Sorrento in time for the Easter Processions
In the USA I have 'processions' from the local Catholic church or during the Italian American celebrations but NOTHING prepared me for what I experienced in Sorrento at Easter.
Tour books only mentioned the ancient traditions in Italy but nothing prepares you for the sheer size of a procession that travels the entire town and which every resident attends.
Both days are filled with symbolic procedures, clothing, colors and very moving music
The White Procession - : Arciconfraternita di Santa Monica - Begins at Chiesa dell'Annunziata and follows the streets of Sorrento It starts at 3 am and continues all night until dawn. The robes and hoods are white.
Membership in the various 'brotherhoods' that participate is an honor
Shop and street lights are turned off as the procession passes. Many of the balconies had candles.
Over 200 members of the choir chant and the band performs the funeral march from Chopin'w Opu35
Many of the items carried in the processions have significant meaning: the crown of thrones, the spear, hammer and nails from the Crucifixion, dice, blood stained whips, sponge, a bag of 'silver', wooden crosses and even a rooster.*
The procession started at am on Thursday! Yes I was out in the street by 3:30 along with the ENTIRE town. Most of the crowd followed the procession through the streets of the town until early the next morning.
The Black Procession - : Arciconfraternita della Morta - begins at the Chiesa dei servi Di Maria -
on Friday evening starting at 8 pm According to www.aponteviaggi, women are excluded from walking in this procession on Good Friday. Representing the mourning of the death of Jesus, the band performs funeral marches, the Miserere is sung and Psalm 50 is sung in Gregorian style. The music, chanting and singing was very moving (as a spectator) But the entire pageantry of an entire town expressing their faith left me speechless.
Apartments windows and balconies all had candles on the procession routes.
More remarkable was the complete silence of the crowd lining the street.
The men gather in one of the ancient churches in Sorrento and organize for the procession.
During the balance of the year the statue of the Madonna and Christ are displayed here.
To represent the sorrow at the death of her son, Mary is carried throughout
the entire town, symbolizing her search for her son whose statue is carried at the front of the procession.
only a few of the above photos (circa 2008) are mine, the balance were purchased from a professional photographer in Sorrento, Italy.