Children watch the proceedings from a second floor balcony opening onto the Plaza de San Roque

Viernes Santo en Guanajuato, México

Charlene general 13 Comments

Flemming and I found ourselves inadvertently attending Good Friday mass at the plaza of Templo de San Roque.

This loosely triangular plaza in front of the crumbling church, has permanent seats and theatre lights in place for outdoor performances. It also happens to be a great place to hang out in the late afternoons, when the shadows lengthen and throw sections of the plaza into deep shade, without hampering the colour and texture of the rest.

Plaza de San Roque a few days before Valentine's Day, Guanajuato

Plaza de San Roque a few days before Valentine’s Day, Guanajuato

It was the first of many favourite spots which Flemming and I found to shoot in Guanajuato, and one we find ourselves going back to.

It was on one of these returns that we found ourselves a part of the congregation during Easter mass, while a plaster Christ was being pulled up against the Templo walls during the reenactment of the Crucifixion. Being the only heathen product of a devout Christian family, I’ve been to church enough to follow the Spanish service without too much difficulty. But unfamiliar with Catholic elements, especially in the local context (I grew up in an Anglican household in Singapore), the significance of the various figures and traditions were lost on me. So I will share pictures instead.

Bystanders, local and foreign alike, watch the reenactment of the crucifixion in Plaza de San Roque

Bystanders, local and foreign alike, watch the reenactment of the crucifixion in Plaza de San Roque

The priest leads the service from the roof of one of the buildings surrounding the plaza - which is outfitted with a full AV control room for performances.

The priest leads the service from the roof of one of the buildings surrounding the plaza – which also contains an AV control room.

The congregation in Plaza de San Roque

The congregation in Plaza de San Roque

The effigy of Our Lady of Solitude awaits the Procession of Silence.

The effigy of Our Lady of Solitude awaits the Procession of Silence.

The bearers (all women) of Our Lady of Solitude, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary on their respective floats, begin the slow march out of Plaza de San Roque through the streets of Guanajuato

The bearers (all women) of Our Lady of Solitude, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary on their respective floats, begin the slow march out of Plaza de San Roque through the streets of Guanajuato

Lighting the way for the Procession of Silence.

Lighting the way for the Procession of Silence.

The brotherhood bearing the body of Christ are helped down the stairs from Plaza de San Fernando to the main street. Roman soldiers lift power lines with their spears above the floats to avoid any tangling.

The brotherhood bearing the body of Christ are helped down the stairs from Plaza de San Fernando to the main street. Roman soldiers lift power lines with their spears above the floats to avoid any tangling.

Our Lady of Solitude on her float, Jesus and the Virgin Mary follow close behind.

Our Lady of Solitude on her float, Jesus and the Virgin Mary follow close behind.

It is a heavy burden to bear - especially when barefoot, which all these women were.

It is a heavy burden to bear – especially when barefoot, which all these women were.

The brotherhood keeping rhythm: In the 7 weeks that Flemming and I had lived at the top of Barrio Alto, we would listen to this marching band practicing at sunset every Saturday. We never set eyes on them in that time, so were utterly delighted to discover that they were part of this procession. How did we know it was the same band? Well, in all those weeks of practice, they never managed to keep time with one another.... and that distinctive dissonance was in full swing during the procession!

The brotherhood keeping rhythm: In the 7 weeks that Flemming and I had lived at the top of Barrio Alto, we would listen to this marching band practicing at sunset every Saturday. We never set eyes on them in that time, so were utterly delighted to discover that they were part of this procession. How did we know it was the same band? Well, in all those weeks of practice, they never managed to keep time with one another…. and that distinctive dissonance was in full swing during the procession!

A Roman soldier keeps the crowd at bay, making room for the Procession of Silence on the main road.

A Roman soldier keeps the crowd at bay, making room for the Procession of Silence on the main road.

Charlene-Winfred-46276

Comments 13

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  1. Lovely, simply lovely, Charlene. I attended our own Good Friday ritual here in NM in Good Friday (been waiting several years for the opportunity!) and yours looks a bit more organized.

    Received your postcard today, by the way. Thank you so much for thinking of us. Wish we could return the kindness.
    ~Brian

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      Oooh, tell me more Brian – where did you experience these Good Friday rituals?

      Glad you got the postcard! Last time I sent postcards from Mexico, no one got any, so happy to hear these ended up where they’re meant to 🙂

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  2. You made a really nice series here from our procession experience. The first pic is stunning.

    But, for me, the band wins…it was just so incredibly peculiar to suddenly hear that very well known machine gun sound of drummers out of sync spiced with trumpets out of key! My brain went “hang on, wait, I know this” and then I realised that it was THE band, the band that had practiced for 7 weeks every weekend near our home. CLASSIC!

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  3. Great sequence. I love the brotherhood pic too! Looking at that pic I come to mind a very old Joy Division’s song, Atmosphere, it well suits those atmosphere 🙂

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