Many processions and burning of Judas mark Semana Santa

A.M. Costa Rica file photos Life-size statutes and biblical reenactments are all part of the capital's Semana Santa celebration

The Escuela Municipal de Música Santo Domingo is presenting its Concierto de Música Sacra in Heredia Tuesday night as part of the city’s celebration for Semana Santa. The free concert will be held at the Basilica de Santo Domingo de Guzmán at 7 p.m.

This is one of many events in the Central Valley to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As part of Holy week there is one custom that is common in Costa Rica, once referred to incorrectly by the U. S. State Department as an antisemitic celebration. It is the Quema de Judas, or the “burning of Judas.”

The U.S. mistakenly translated the ceremony into “the burning of the Jew” in a criticism of the practice in Geece.

This tradition is mostly practiced in Alajuela, Heredia, and smaller rural towns around the Central Valley. This year the Fuerza Publica officers have made a public announcement condemning the fiery tradition.

In a press release, the police agency stated the practice isn’t safe and causes chaos in towns that participate. It’s also considered dangerous.

In the past youths have burned cars, set bonfires, participated in aggressions, blocked off streets or roads, and overall created disturbances in public order, according to the press release.

The Quema de Judas is where an effigy of Judas is made and hung on Good friday. Then on Saturday night the effigy is lit on fire and burned. This is an opportunity to get even with Judas since he was a traitor to the Maestro, said Carlos Arauz, a Costa Rica customs and traditions expert.

According to the Bible, Judas was the apostle who sold out Christ for silver coins. Others have said the burning of Judas is a way for Christians to let all their sins wild and in symbol burn with Judas, and then confess for Easter. This cleanses and allows them to be reborn just like Jesus.

“Almost everybody confesses before Easter,” said Arauz. The Catedral Metropolitana will have 100 priests working toward the end of the week to handle the crowd.

Another less aggressive tradition is the custom of processions. The Catedral Metropolitana will hold many processions from its location at Parque Central beginning Sunday. Similar events are held all over the country.

A booklet with the schedule for Semana Santa en San José is available at the cathedral for free. Inside are the dates and times for each procession along with their proper name and a description of the event.
The first is the Procesión con el Señor del Triunfo at 9:45 a.m. The mayor of San José, Johnny Araya Monge, is scheduled to participate. This is a recreation of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The day is Palm Sunday in the English-speaking world.

Solemne vía Crucis procession at 7 p.m. from the exit of the La Merced church east of Parque La Merced, toward the cathedral along Avenida 4. This is called stations of the cross in English.

There is no procession this day. Instead a concert by the Banda Nacional de San José plays inside the cathedral.

There will be deliveries of food offerings to church officials from the main vegetable markets in San José at 8:30 a.m. Then there is a concert by the Banda Municipal de San José at Parque Central.

There will be three solemn Masses that day for the Solemne Triduo Pascual at 8:15 a.m., 9 a.m. and 6 p.m..
The procession Silencio con Jesús Atado a la Columna is at 7:30 p.m. from the exit of Parque Central to the El Carmen church. The procession contains a representation of Jesus tied to a column for a lashing by his captors.

The Procesión con Jesús Nazareno Cargando la Cruz Camino al Calvario begins at 10 a.m. This procession leaves the El Carmen church and will be joined by the Banda Municipal de San José. This commemorates Christ carrying the cross to Calvary for his execution.

At 10:30 a.m. is the other part of the procession with the Virgin Dolorosa from the La Dolorosa church off of Calle Central, where marchers will meet with the previous procession at the Banco de Costa Rica off of Avenida 2. The Cuerpo de Bomberos will take part.

This is the Procesión de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad that starts at 4 p.m. from the La Soledad church to the Catedral Metropolitana accompanied by the Banda Nacional de San José.

Then at 7 p.m. there is the liturgical act that is considered the most important and most significant in all of Semana Santa inside the Catedral Metropolitana.

Easter Sunday
This is the last procession of the Holy week, with the Alegre Procesión con El Señor Resucitado at 10 a.m. from the gardens of La Merced to the Catedral Metropolitana. Then the Mass begins at 10:30 a.m. commemorating the resurrection of Jesus.

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