Holy Week Events

Friday April 12th
5pm
Children’s Stations of the Cross
San Antonio
Follow the story of Crucifixion with children playing all the parts as they go through San Antonio on Friday April 12th starting at 5PM from the San Antonio church.
Friday April 12th
6pm to midnight
Across town
Altars to Mary at Crucifixion
Viewers experience Jesus death less from his dying and more towards her perspective of being left behind alone.
The Friday before Good Friday is for Our Lady of Sorrows.  It acknowledges Mary’s seven sorrows stretching from Jesus’ presentation at the temple and culminate in her pain at losing her only child. Altars throughout town contain symbolic elements of mourning such as sour oranges, chamomile, wheat and purple cloth.  Bitter oranges represent Mary’s sorrow and gold is place on the oranges representing Mary’s tears. The wheat (grown in darkness and light gold of color) represent Jesus’ secret of knowing a horrible death awaited him and is what communion bread is made from.  Chamomile is for humility.  Purple, in addition to mourning, represents royalty since Mary is Queen of Heaven.  The white clothes and flowers are for Mary’s purity.
Also chilacayote, a kind of sweet pumpkin, represents the sweetness of Mary’s maternal love for Jesus.  Along with other flavored waters the chilacayote is frozen into popsicles representing Mary’s tears changed into something good.  It is also the motivation for children (and the child-like) to view as many altars and receive as many popsicles as possible!
Many altars will play the music of the Tenebrae.  This haunting composition was by Juan Gutierrez de Padilla especially for San Miguel’s Easter season in the mid 1600’s.
In Colonial times there were 300 factories run by the indigenous and 50 by the Spanish making fabrics like we see today in multicolored napkins for sale in San Miguel.  Our Lady of Sorrows was the patroness of these workers whose work was centered around the street called Baranca.  Near there, on Piedras Chinas, a small chapel was built in her honor her seven sorrows.  Tonight the chapel is open and surrounding area filled with altars and street vendors providing food and drink.
The altars are constructed all day with visitors strolling to visit between 6PM and midnight.

Palm Sunday April 14th
11AM
Parque Juares to the Parroquia
Procession
View Jesus joyful entry into town a few days before he is crucified on Palm Sunday April 14th at 11AM heading from Parque Juares to the Parroquia.
For Palm Sunday vendors will be selling beautiful items made of hand woven palm fronds in front of all the main churches today. Some of the best are sold at the Oratorio.
Christ on the donkey is a medium-sized statue from the Santa Escuela Church, beside the Parroquia. Preceded by dancers in their bright regalia and trailing feathers and followed by hundreds of participants waving palm fronds, the procession circles back to the Jardín amid the sound of drums, trumpets and church bells.

Palm Sunday April 14th
Various Times across town
Blessing of the Palms
The blessing the palms occur with corresponding processions across town. 6:15AM is at the Chapel of Good Health on Plaza Civica, 9AM is in the atrium of the Immaculate Conception and 11:45 at San Antonio.

Wednesday April 17th
Various times and locations
Processions
Wednesday of Holy Week recalls the abandonment of Jesus with early evening services called Vespers of Darkness. A special mass with a candelabra on the altar holds 15 candles. One candle is extinguished for each Psalm sung until finally, as the service ends, a single candle remains, representing Christ alone in the garden.
Following is a procession to follow the Stations of the Cross build into San Miguel’s streets started by Father Philip Neri Alfaro.  The niches start at the Santa Escuela (beside the Parroquia), run by St. Francis and end at the Chapel of Calvary, named for the hill Jesus died on.

At 5PM are processions from both the Oratorio and San Juan de Dios. At 6PM they start from the Santa Esculea next to the Parroquia.

Holy Thursday April 18th
Across town, staring at 6PM
Visiting 7 Churches
Following an ancient San Miguel tradition, people visit seven churches today to view special altars depicting Jesus before his death and eat various types of bread.  The lines to enter can be very long, so visiting any seven can take some time.  Luckily outside any church are food vendors.
Holy Thursday commemorates several important events of Holy Week (Santa Semana) with masses including the Last Supper, the washing of the feet of the 12 Apostles and the arrest of Jesus.  The perfume of chamomile is characteristic in every church.
The act of visiting seven churches reinforces the solemnity of the week and San Miguel’s observance of this most holy time.  Today the faithful visit churches in any sequence or location they choose.  Historically one left the Temple of Good Health to go to Santo Domingo to correspond with St. Peter’s in Rome.  Then came the Church of the Third Order of St. Francis, the Parroquia, the Nuns’ Church (Las Monjas), San Juan de Dios, Santa Ana and San Francisco.  Lastly a visit was paid to the Casa of Loreto in the Oratory in honor of early Roman church called Vallicella, the first church started by St. Phillip Neri, founder of the Oratory clergy.

Each church will display parts of the Crucifixion story.  Seven churches are chosen to reflect Jesus’ last words of “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
Good Friday April 19th
Stations of the Cross
Various times and locations
The telling of the crucifixion story, or Stations of the Cross, are performed across town at various times and locations. 6AM at the Santa Escuela, next to the Parroquia. 9AM from San Juan de Dios, 10AM in in San Antonio and 10:30 in the streets surrounding the Oratorio.
During Holy Week are countless processions devoted to depicting Jesus’ death.  One of the oldest, that started in Colonial times, follows the route of the Stations of the Cross built into the buildings of San Miguel.  The stations start from the Santa Escuela (next to the Parroquia) and continue on the streets of Juarez, Mesones, Nunez and San Francisco to end at the tiny chapel of Calvary on the corner of Real de Queretaro and Calvario.  Inside the chapel is the image of Jesus with painful anxiety on his face for his forlorn solitude.

Stations of the Cross (sometimes referred to as Way of the Cross or Via Crucis) refer to a series of artistic representations depicting Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion.
Churches typically place Stations of the Cross at intervals along the side walls and are reflective of the artistic culture where the church is located. The tradition of moving around the Stations to commemorate the passion of Christ began with St. Francis of Assisi. It is most commonly done during Lent, especially on Good Friday.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics.
Traditionally there were 14 Stations of the Cross, but Pope John Paul II added the Resurrection as the fifteenth.
The stations are:
First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.
Second Station: Jesus carries the cross.
Third Station: Jesus falls the first time.
Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother Mary.
Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.
Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time.
Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time.
Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments.
Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross.
Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross.
Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of Mary, his mother.
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is buried.
Fifteenth Station: Resurrection

In many of the ingenious chapels surrounding town the Stations of the Cross are marked in the front courtyard of the church for it was outside that the indigenous preferred to worship.

Good Friday April 19th
The Encounter Procession
Noon from Santa Escuela
The encounter of Jesus with the Virgin Mother on the road to Mount Calvary during the Stations of the Cross that takes place in several streets surrounding the jardin.  Upon seeing his mother, the ancient statue of Jesus actually bows his head in sorrow.

Others featured in the processions are Jesus’ friends St. John the Apostle, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Veronica with her veil displaying Jesus’ face.  Normally Jesus’ aunt, Mary of Clopas is seen.  Also featured are Gestas and the young St. Dismas, the bad and good thieves who died alongside Jesus.  Numerous nameless angels represent comfort sent from heaven to aid Mary in her sadness.

St. Roque leads the procession followed by angels and 12 barefoot men wearing roughly woven garments with crowns of thorns on their heads.  Next 12 men carry skulls represent the path from death to eternal life.  All are guarded by Roman soldiers.
Twelve men carry the statue of Eccehomo with the parish priest carrying an ancient cross used since the 1700’s.
Good Friday April 19th
The Holy Burial
5PM from the Oratorio
The Holy Burial procession starting and ending at the Oratorio of San Felipe Neri church began in 1712.   It begins with groups of women, all dressed in black and high heels, carring flowers and statues of saints. Then young girls in white with feathered angel wings join the parade carrying images of the Passion like nails, crown of thorns, the ladder, the cock, the sponge with vinegar and the dice used by the Romans to gamble for Christ’s clothes.  Also the pitcher and bowl with which Pontus Pilate washed his hands is included.

Next are the elegant and colorful statues of the saints and a glass-coffin Jesus with indigenous features, whom emerge from the church on only this one day each year. The life-sized figures are carried on platforms and normally head towards the jardin.  Other years the procession stays in Plaza Civica.
Angels emerge in to the streets carrying the crown of thorns, the spikes, the sword and Veronica’s veil.  Their role is to elicit compassion from the viewing public while assisting Mary with her grief.
An organization called Esclavitud Lauretana bring the image of Mary in a long velvet cloak which will spend Holy Saturday in the Santa Casa de Loreto awaiting visitors to keep her company in this time of mourning.
The last images to emerge are of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who carries a document where Pontius Pilate authorizes him to take Christ down form the cross and bury him.  They are surrounded by Roman soldiers to insure Jesus’ body does not get stolen, as Pontius Pilate ordered.
Symbolically the procession returns at sunset when there is only mourning and sadness.  Youth choirs sing songs of pain as the voices of the innocents, as pleas to God written exclusively for this event.
There are other popular processions and reenactments in Colonia San Luis Rey and Atotonilco.

Holy Saturday April 20th
Our Lady of Solitude
All day

Holy Saturday in San Miguel is mostly quiet as the city waits for the joy of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, when the events of Holy Week will come to an end.  This quiet day is the feast of Our Lady of Solitude, a patroness of San Miguel since 1555.
Today the Benedictine Cloister just outside of San Miguel is named in her honor.

Historically no mass or communion is offered on this day unless the person is near death.  Then the only hosts available are at the Immaculate Conception church with the cloistered sisters.  Instead wakes are held in the churches with rosaries being recited to ease Mary’s pain while keeping her company.
Easter Sunday April 21st
The Jardin
Noon
Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection featuring huge piñatas that explode over the jardin.  The piñatas feature politicians, Judas and celebrities not in good public favor whose dismembered paper body parts are quickly gathered by local children and sold to visitors.

It is an emotional release of all the solemnity surrounding the time leading up to Easter and an exciting celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

Officially Easter begins Saturday night.  Many will attend a wake for Jesus, go home for a large dinner and return for Easter mass at 9PM.  The church may be engulfed in darkness until one lit candle begins the moving transformation to a fully candle lit church signifying Jesus’ resurrection.
Thursday April 25th
Lord of the Column Procession
Midnight
The Lord of Column returns home from St. John of God to Atotonilco

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Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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