In 1865, the celebrations of the High Brotherhood of Our Lord Jesus Scourged were characterised by an explosion of grandeur, which was the forerunner of the unusually spectacular displays of the modern May festival in Priego. There were fireworks, parties, and even bullfights, events which became of major importance to the hermandad. Elaborate altar displays were mounted, great orators were invited, and there were processions to musical accompaniment – all combined to present a moving and majestic spectacle.
Mention of the altar displays cannot be made without reference to the master of this rare art, the distinguished brotherhood member Francisco Ruiz Santaella, whose work has become a benchmark for all the generations of cofradias which followed him.
The list of the greatest religious speakers who have come to Priego through the ages would be long indeed; let it suffice to recall the name of the Orator of Córdoba Cathedral, Don Manuel González Francés, who preached on many occasions in the late 19th century.
The great ceremony attached to the festivals is largely due to their musical element, and here we should take note of a lengthy list of scores composed expressly for the Brotherhood of Lord Jesus Scourged. Two masterpieces of sacred music stand out, which are still performed after more than a century, on the hermandad’s particular Sunday in May: Mass for Four and Eight Voices, by Juan Antonio Gómez Navarro, choirmaster of Córdoba Cathedral, and Aria for baritone or tenor, by the same composer, based on the inspired verses of the poet Julio Valdelomar y Fábregues: the score is dated May 16th, 1886.
Such a wealth of music can be enjoyed during the processions, with appearances by leading military bands, from the Foreign Legion or the Guardia Civil for example, with their respective platoons of marchers. The final stretch of the procession is marked by thunderous firework displays.
The festival auctions were established around 1840, and took up three evenings, raising money from the items donated by members. The Brotherhood of Lord Jesus Scourged was among the first to look at new ways of tackling the problems faced by the auctions from time to time: in 1969, the event was replaced by a party, with an appearance by the then well-known group The Rockings.
Two May festivals -- in 1890 and 1990 -- stand out from the rest, because of the extraordinary opulence of their ceremony. In the first, the hermandad had offered prayers for the recovery from sickness of the future king Alfonso XIII, then just a child of four years old. The boy recovered, and the Queen Regent was asked to send a representative to the May celebrations: this she did, in the person of the Duke of Hornachuelos, a prominent courtier of the time. One hundred years later, a centenary celebration on a grand scale was programmed, which surpassed all expectations with, on the Saturday and Sunday, appearances by these singers, musicians, and choirs: the Alonso Cano choir, the Ramón Medina choir, the choir of Úbeda, the Conservatory Orchestra, Carlos Hacar, Juan Luque, Pedro Lavirgen, Antonio López, and Luis Bedmar. The procession was accompanied by the Band of Marchers, Cornets and Drums of the Foreign Legion in Málaga.