This afternoon I persuaded my long-suffering family that we should make our one-and-only Semana Santa visit together to Seville. The last couple of days were total wash-outs, with every one of the pasos due to make their procession through the streets from their church to the Cathedral being cancelled because of the unrelentingly wet weather. The Madrugada, Thursday night’s highly atmospheric processions, for many the highlight of the whole week, were cancelled for the first time since the Civil War.
Apart from the disappointed tourists who have come all the way to Seville to see its world-famous Holy Week processions – the statues and elaborate scenes of Jesus at the Last Supper, being tried by the Romans, being crucified; and of the Virgin Mary – along with the nazarenos wearing their tunics and notoriously, um, spooky pointed hoods (capirotes) with eyeholes, reminiscent of the Klu Klux Klan; some barefoot, some shackled, some bearing crosses, many bearing long candles (cirios) – the members of the cofrades who have spent all year preparing for this moment, cleaning their robes, polishing their instruments, decorating their pasos, are all gutted, crushed, left looking to the skies in desperation and despair.
We were lucky enough to see the one and only paso – El Sol – which managed to make its way from its church (in the south-east of the city) to the cathedral today, and the first since Wednesday. Of the others, apart from Trinidad, which left its home only to retreat soon after from the downpour, none took part in the traditional Semana Santa celebrations. It was only El Sol (La Fervorosa y Mariana Hermandad de Nuestra Señora del Sol, to give it its full name)’s second year of taking part in this major event, which explains its hermanos’ keeness to come out.
We watched El Sol as it passed the Carlos V roundabout, at the corner of the Juzgados and the Prado, passing along the tramlines (not the most photogenic spot), and moving into calle San Fernando, with the University, better known as the tobacco factory where Carmen worked, as a backdrop.
First was the capataz, the man who tells people to get the **** out of the way, to make space for the procession to pass – they were on the road, and we had to hop up onto the grassy kerb pretty sharpish. He is wearing a pendant which shows the symbol of this hermandad – El Sol, the sun.
Then came the band, Banda de Cornetas y Tambores Nuestra Señora del Sol, with their bright blue uniforms, again bearing sun logos – this time on their arms.
Then came some nazarenos, some with hessian belts, and smart silver candle-holders. Their tunics were dark green, and they number about 600 in total.
Then, the paso of Jesus, (deep breath) Santo Cristo Varón de Dolores de la Divina Misericordia (see name on cloth on band member’s wrist, above). It’s one of the most recently crafted images to appear in the Semana Santa processions, dating from 2003. The dark, threatening clouds give you an inkling of why this hermandad had cojones to come out at all.
Here is a close-up shot of the Cristo, silhouetted against the stormy sky.
Then he went up Calle San Fernando, among the palm trees, by the tobacco factory (just visible through the foliage). You can only imagine how spectacular the scene would have been with blue skies and, er, sun.
Then came some more nazarenos, this time carrying crosses.
And finally, when my camera battery had run out, the Virgin, Nuestra Señora del Sol, who is also a newcomer on the paso scene, just three years young. I took a quick snap with my mobile phone.
This hermandad has about 35 costaleros for each paso - the men who carry the statues, hidden under the cloths which hang down from the platforms (see above – it’s green). Here are some costaleros, also with their sun logo.
So El Sol didn’t get much sol; we pegged it to the Metro to go home shortly afterwards, just catching the first few drops of rain. The sun did come out briefly, and I saw a wonderful photo of someone from El Sol, with the sun shining on their pendant.
After that, it poured consistently for the next three hours, and the procession was stuck in the cathedral till about 9pm, scuppering the remaining five processions which were due to go out this afternoon. And so ends Semana Santa 2011 in Seville – a wash-out, with a few bright spots.