Desfile procecional de la Pontificia y Real Archicofradía de la Santa Veracruz, Nuestro Padre Jesús en la Columna y María Santísima de la Esperanza
The Brotherhood of the True Cross was founded in 1550, the first cofradía, or church guild, to be founded in Priego after the Middle Ages. In 1644, they joined the Brotherhood of Lord Jesus Scourged, forming the Papal and Royal Arch-Brotherhood of the True Cross, Lord Jesus Scourged and Holiest Mary of Hope. It has the title of Archicofradía because it is linked to the basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.
The early organisation had to overcome many obstacles: the chaplains and clergy of the Priego churches were opposed to its members meeting in the monastery of San Francisco, as they lost the right to donations and any control over the cofradía. An alderman of Alcalá la Real, Pedro Serrano, was brought in to resolve the dispute, which he settled by making the chaplains and the incumbents promise “to forgive all disputes and quarrels”.
The icon representing The Scourging of Jesus is thought to be the work of the Granadan sculptor Alonso de Mena, and dates back to around 1640. Its outstanding features are the sculpted ringlets of the hair, the finely detailed beard and the taut, naked torso. The figure is very similar to the Scourging of Christ in Alcalá, sculpted by the same artist: it is carved in a baroque style, but it recalls the earlier imagery of Pablo de Rojas. The figure is an embodiment of extreme suffering: contorted by intense pain, the knees bent, the body tense, with a powerful expression of profound sorrow. It is the only Priego icon to have been restored by the National Register of Fine Arts - in 1972. The figure of Our Lady of Hope dates back to 1738, and was restored by the craftsman Niceto Mateo in 1987.
The procession of The Papal and Royal Arch-Brotherhood of the True Cross, Lord Jesus Scourged,and Holiest Mary of Hope sets out from the church of San Francisco on Easter Thursday evening, and takes the following route:
Compás de San Francisco, Carrera de Álvarez, República Argentina, Ribera, Carrera de las Monjas, Palenque, Obispo Pérez Muñoz, Cevantes, Málaga, Ancha, Río, Plaza Andalucía, Mesones, Obispo Cabellero, returning to the church of San Francisco.
The True Cross leads the procession. It had become customary for female penitents – the faces hidden – to take part, and on November 19th, 1982, it was agreed that women should not only prepare the icon for the parade, but also carry it: the Brotherhood believes that this group of female bearers was the first of its kind in Spain. The True Cross is followed by the images of the Scourging of Jesus and the Virgin of Hope: in the past, the pasos, or platforms, were wheeled, but that changed many years ago, and now, 85 bearers carry the paso of Jesus and 34 carry the Virgin, each group responding to a director who gives orders by ringing a bell.
The figure of Jesus is tormented by two guards – these figures less finely sculpted -- who beat him mercilessly. It is borne on a beautiful paso was made in 1975: at its head sits a child dressed as an angel, a link between this procession and the drama of the Arrest, which is also organised by this cofradía. Some thirty penitents accompany the procession, wearing white tunics with green hoods.
Over the years, various bands have provided the rhythm for the procession, but today, there are just two. In 1974, a band was formed in collaboration with the Nazareno Brotherhood, to be used in both processions, but it broke up in 1977. That same year saw the first outing of the current band, with 40 drums and 28 bass drums. The march used to accompany the figure of Jesus out of the church is a raun composed by Vicente Alcalá – unusual in that its slow, regal rhythm is reminiscent of a waltz. This band used to go so far ahead that it could not be heard by the bearers of the Scourging of Jesus, so a second band was formed in 1978: this broke up, but was reformed a few years ago. Today, it is made up of 21 drums and 12 bass drums, and it is the band which accompanies The Arrest of Christ on Easter Wednesday.
Of all the ceremonies involving this brotherhood, of particular importance is the triduo – a Mass on three consecutive days -- in preparation for the Paschal Communion, celebrated on Easter Thursday at 5 o’clock in the evening.
Cofradía de María Santísima de los Dolores y Cristo de la Buena Muerte
On Easter Monday, the cofradía, or church guild, of Holiest Mary of Suffering and Christ of the Blessed Death, descends from the hill of Calvary, high above Priego. The procession returns in the early hours of Good Friday, in an atmosphere of silence charged with penitence.
In June 1689, the abbot of Alcalá, Don Pedro de Toledo, approved the constitution of the brotherhood of Holiest Mary of Suffering, then based in the ancient church of Santiago. Nothing more is known of the guild until 1928, when a group of guild members at the shrine of Calvary decided to reconstitute it, and in 1931, the Bishop of Córdoba approved the rules of the new cofradía. Eventually, there was a third reorganisation in 1969, when the guild entered its most significant period.
It is thought that the figure of Our Lady of Suffering was donated to the shrine of Santo Cristo del Humilladero in 1635 by Marina de Pareja, “with all robes provided, ready to adorn the altar”. The icon was moved to the rebuilt shrine of Calvary in the eigtheenth century.
The figure of Our Lady of Suffering, surrounded by its sea of candles, is one of the outstanding icons of the seventeenth century: nothing, however, is known of its provenance. The elegantly-dressed image embodies the suffering of the mother of Christ, her heart consumed with flames, run through with seven daggers, at the centre of her breast. The figure once bore symbols associated with the Crucifixion, but they were removed in the last restoration in 1978.
In 1970, the image of Christ of the Blessed Death, a carving of the Granada school, was brought into the procession from the church of the Virgen de la Cabeza, to where it had been moved from the former shrine of San Luis. For a while, the icon was kept in the cemetery, until building work on the church was finished. It belongs to a style of icon depicting the death-throes of Christ, and is believed to date from the seventeenth century: some experts attribute it to Juan Fernández de Lara, others to José de Mora.
The first procession is thought to have taken place in 1930, but there is no documentary evidence: the figure of Christ of the Blessed Death was added in 1970. The procession, generally acclaimed as one of the best-organised and most spectacular of Holy Week in Priego, undertakes a double journey. On the Monday it leaves the heights of the shrine of Calvary and descends through the town to the parish church of La Asunción. The official march of the cofradía, known as the Silent Procession, climbs back up through through the streets in the early hours of Good Friday, returning each figure to its respective shrine.
The routes are -- on Easter Monday: Calvary, Rute, Virgen de la Cabeza, Estación, Santo Cristo, Málaga, Ancha, Río, Ribera, Corazón de Jesús and Asunción.
In the early hours of Good Friday: Asunción, Corazón de Jesús, Ribera, Carrera de la Monjas, Lozano Sidro, Virgen de la Cabeza, Rute, the lanes leading to Calvary.
The Virgin is carried on the shoulders of 110 costaleros, or bearers, wearing black robes with purple hoods. They are substituted 55 times during the procession, so long is the route, and so great the weight of the icon and its throne. The costaleros are obliged to execute extremely difficult manoeuvres through tiny lanes, and their movements are guided by a procession director, giving commands to the ringing of a bell.
The figure of Christ is borne in a most unusual way, by only eight costaleros. The icon is flanked by four enormous torches which light up the whole paso, and the director gives instructions by subtle signs with his hands or movements of his cape.
The so-called Ovals of the of the Suffering -- seven oval-framed paintings by Manuel Rovira Casañer – were added to the procession in 1981: they are carried by penitents, and depict the seven sufferings of Our Lady.
The procession has been accompanied by the drums of the guild since 1971: today, there are 38 drums, as well as the lead drum and 12 bass drums, which mark a rhythm composed by Alonso Cano and Antonio López. This band was the first to adopt the so-called raun to accompany the exit and entrance of the icons -- fast and thunderous drumbeats which electrify the atmosphere. In 1991, six bugles were incorporated to play a fanfare, an event unprecedented in Holy Week. The band’s repertoire, including the March of Silence, has been adapted to its style by Antonio Ureña, and the composer Francisco José Serrano has written a Passion march specifically for the fraternity.
The Silent Procession climbs up towards Calvary in the early hours of Good Friday, with the Choir of the Vía Sacra, singing the sacred music Stabat Mater and Miserere, which has traditionally accompanied the Passion and the saying of the Rosary,
There are a number of ceremonies in the days leading up to Easter: every Friday in Lent until the Friday before Holy Week, there is an enactment of the Vía Crucis, The Way of the Cross, and afterwards, the fraternity and supporters gather to kiss Our Lady’s hand. There is a quinario – Mass on five consecutive days – during the preceding week.