Hooded Penitents of Santanyí

Hooded Penitents of Santanyí

You could have been forgiven for thinking it was Halloween, not Easter Weekend.

A solemn procession filed slowly through the half-lit cobbled backstreets of Santanyí, Mallorca. Eerier still, they walked in silence, dressed in long white robes and conical pointed hoods, faces covered but for their mournful eyes.

Disturbingly similar in dress to the Klu Klux Klan, their Medieval dress pre-dates the arrival of Europeans into the United States, let alone the racism that followed.

The procession’s ranks are made up of the church brotherhoods or ‘cofrarias’. Each wears a tunic and belt in their cofraria’s colours. Each and every hooded participant is a ‘carapunats’ or a self-declared sinner and penitent. The silent slow march leaves them alone with their prayer and penance, behind these hooded veil as they make their way to the beautiful but imposing Parroquia de Sant Andreu. Somewhere to the rear, a somber marching band plays a suitably mournful beat.

The reason for this eerie night time procession is Easter week, Semana Santa; a poignant time for the Roman Catholic faith in Mallorca as they recognise the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whilst most visitors come to this Balearic island for the wonderful beaches and restaurants, Semana Santa deserves a look inward rather than out to the crystal blue waters.

On the Thursday before Easter – Maundy Thursday – the largest processions take place through the streets at night. In Palma, the solemn Crist de La Sang procession departs from the Anunciació church at 7pm, walking to the cathedral.

Good Friday sees the reenactment of Christ’s Passion in front of Palma cathedral at midday. The Sant Enterrament (Holy Burial) procession departs from Sant Francesc at 7pm that evening. The magnificent La Seu cathedral in Palma hosts the largest mass, usually attended by the royal family, on Easter Sunday.

 


The author travelled to Santanyí at his own cost and stumbled across this spectacle by accident.


 


Photos are courtesy of: Mallorca Hiking,

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