Celebrations for Easter 2011 in San Miguel

April 9, 2011

Filed under: San Miguel de Allende Events — Annie @ 3:14 pm

Easter is one of the most celebrated times in San Miguel.  Many traditions and religious processions date from the earliest settlement years of the town almost 500 years ago.

This year, the countdown to Semana Santa (Holy Week) begins two weeks in advance of Easter Sunday.  A schedule of the festivities is below:

Sunday, April 10, Procession of Our Lord of the Column, 6:30am:  The festivities will begin with the extraordinary procession of the miraculous image of Our Lord of the Column (Señor de la Columna), who is transported by pilgrims on foot walking overnight from the sanctuary in Atotonilco (about 12 miles north of the city) into San Miguel to an honored resting spot in the church of San Juan de Dios, where it remains throughout the Easter season.  Locals and tourists alike start gathering shortly after dawn along Calle Independencia and San Antonio Abad, the last stretch of the procession, to see the flower carpets and witness the devout procession as it nears the church of San Juan de Dios in the western part of Centro.

Friday, April 15, Our Lady of Sorrows, 7pm:  On this day San Miguel is adorned with purple, white and green to celebrate the day of Our Lady of Sorrows. Although these celebrations are not well known in all parts of the country, in Guanajuato the day is celebrated every year with great fervor. In homes, businesses and public spaces, decorated altars are on display late into the night, and their creators offer visitors cool fruit drinks and ice cream, representing the tears of Mary.  Throughout San Miguel, the old fountains are also decorated, and residents walk from fountain to fountain, admiring the altars en route.

Sunday, April 17, Palm Sunday, 11am:  The first day of Holy Week is known as Palm Sunday. In San Miguel, the celebration includes two processions representing Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, where He was received by onlookers waving palm fronds. The first procession begins at the chapel of El Calvario, located at the top of Calle San Francisco, from which a man portraying Christ rides a donkey at the head of the procession, followed by the 12 apostles. The procession ends at the church of San Francisco. The second procession leaves the Parroquia around 11am and circles the Jardin.

Wednesday, April 20, Holy Wednesday, 5pm:  A major celebration is the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), which begins at the Oratorio church at 5pm and represents the 14 stations of Christ’s path to martyrdom, carrying the cross. The procession uses the 14 stations marked with a stone cross at certain walls of the main streets of downtown, starting at the Iglesia de la Santa Escuela and ending at the Capilla del Calvario.

Friday, April 22, Good Friday, 11am & 5pm:  Friday is the climax of the religious celebrations with two processions, the Sacred Encounter (Santo Encuentro), representing the meeting of Jesus with his mother on his way to Calvary leaving the Parroquia at 11am, and the Holy Burial, the longest and more solemn procession departing from the Oratorio church at 5pm with about 2,000 sanmiguelense dressed as uniformed Roman soldiers, angels, pallbearers and mourners to accompany statues of archangels, an 18th century life-size figure of the Virgin of Solitude, and a statue of the body of Jesus.

The Shrine of Atotonilco, now a UNESCO World Heritage site and religiously linked to San Miguel, has its own representation of the Via Crucis. It begins on Holy Thursday at 8pm with a restaging of the Last Supper and the arrest of Jesus at Gethsemane . At noon on Good Friday, it continues with the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate on the shrine’s esplanade. The barefoot Christ, wearing a crown of thorns, is flogged relentlessly on the back as he carries the cross to the place of crucifixion, near the entrance to the town. The procession lasts about one hour, culminating in Christ’s being tied to the cross in a simulated crucifixion.

A similar Via Crucis takes place in the working-class colonia of San Luis Rey just north of San Miguel, which begins on Thursday at 7pm with the ceremony in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet . It continues Friday morning at 9am with the trial before Pontius Pilate. The Via Crucis with Jesus carrying the 65-kilogram wooden cross takes place over cobblestone streets for two kilometers to the place of crucifixion in the nearby colonia of Montes de Loreto.

Sunday, April 24, Destruction of Judases, noon:  Celebrations for Semana Santa end with the traditional destruction and blowing up of the papiêr-maché Judases at the Plaza Principal on the street between the Jardín and the former Presidencia building.