Iglesias is famous for the traditions and the Holy Week rites, that date back to the seventeenth century and are repeated every year. Those solemn rites characterized by deep religiosity and a sense of belonging, attract thousands of tourists from all over the world. These traditions have been deeply affected by the Spanish domination, starting from the name of the city: in fact, Iglesias in Spanish means churches.
Iglesias is a town of about 30,000 inhabitants located in south-western Sardinia, in the Iglesiente region. It is a historic city, rich in cultural attractions and centuries-old traditions, including the Holy Week rites, which are organized by the Confraternity of the Holy Mount (Arciconfraternita del Santo Monte). The Confraternity is governed by ancient customs, which have remained unchanged over the centuries. The Germans of the Arciconfraternita, wear a white, starched dress, decorated with black bows, and a hood that covers the face during the processions.
During the whole Holy Week, there are many processions, each of them representing a phase of Jesus' passions and death. The whole city of Iglesias takes part in the events, and as a visitor, you can breathe the air of great devotion.
The Holy Tuesday procession starts the Iglesias Holy Week rites: on this day, the Procession of the Mysteries takes place, starting from the church of San Michele. Seven statues symbolizing the passion of Christ are carried in procession through the streets of the town. The first Mystery represents Jesus praying in the garden of olives: an olive tree with decorations of flowers and Mediterranean herbs (laurel, rosemary, lavender) is placed next to the statue of Jesus. The other mysteries represent the capture, the flagellation, the Ecce Homo, the ascent to Calvary, the Crucifixion, and the Virgin of Sorrows.
During the day, the distribution of the olive branches, flowers, and herbs that decorated the scene during the procession of the Mysteries, takes place in the church of San Michele.
On Thursday, the Chrism Mass is celebrated with the blessing of sacred oils, and in the evening, the Mass in Coena Domini takes place, in memory of Jesus' Last Supper. After sunset, the procession with the Virgin of Sorrows starts, stopping in 7 churches along the way, in remembrance of the Virgin Mary in search of Jesus. On Thursday evening all the chapels of the churches are richly decorated with vases of "Su Nenniri", sprouts of legumes and wheat. The tradition of these sprouts inside churches dates back to pre-Christian times, and in particular, to the myth of Adonis, a symbol of resurrection after death.
On Friday morning, the procession itinerary winds its way to the upper part of the city, Sa Costera. This procession aims to remember Jesus' path towards Calvary, with the cross on his shoulders. Then, in the church of San Michele, in a private rite of the Confraternity, the deposition from the cross is performed. The statue of Jesus, which is articulated, is placed on a blue litter with gold engravings, covered with a white veil. On Friday evening, we proceed with the procession of Descenso, which represents the funeral of Jesus. Christ is depicted lifeless in the seventeenth-century wooden litter. Under the white canopy lies the body of Jesus, and, after him, the statue of the Virgin of Sorrows, who follows her dead son.
Throughout Saturday, people go to worship the body of Jesus in the church of San Michele. During the night, the Risen Christ enters the cathedral.
On Sunday morning, two processions take place: one starts from the Church of San Giuseppe with the statue of the Virgin Mary, while the other starts from the Cathedral with the statue of the Risen Jesus. The two processions follow different paths in the city, until the time of 'S'Incontru' (the meeting), between via Gramsci and Piazza Sella. The two groups bow three times towards each other and finally come closer to form a unique procession that goes towards the Cathedral of Santa Chiara, where the Mass will take place.
After having an experience of such a high spiritual value, as the rites of the Holy Week in Iglesias, you can spend your Easter in relaxation at one of the beautiful farmhouses present in the area or even plan an excursion to the mining area. Or, why not, a trek on the Santa Barbara Mining Route. Or, again, a detour to the splendid beaches of Fontanamare or Porto Paglia, in the nearby town of Gonnesa. You will find wide beaches and beautiful sea, less crowded than the most famous places. Iglesias, a city of art and culture, awaits you to tell you about its wonders!
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