Churches have a full lineup of events for Semana Santa

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Among the participants is a recent Good Friday procession
with this woman representing the biblical character of

The Catedral Metropolitana has a full schedule for Semana Santa or Holy Week beginning with a Palm Sunday procession this Sunday.

The archdiocese have published a booklet with all the events, and San José Mayor Johnny Araya has written an invitation for the public to participate.

The events are colorful and worth photographing even for those who are not Christian or even religious.

The procession Sunday begins at 9:30 a.m. with a blessing of the palms at the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Soledad at the east end of the Avenida 4 pedestrian mall. The San José municipal band will participate as marchers commemorate the Christian tradition of the triumphal entrance into the city of Jerusalem by Jesus Christ. Sometimes there is an actor playing Jesus. Other years there have been statues. Almost always there is a donkey.

The procession will go to the cathedral and pass through a temporary construction representing the gates of the ancient city. There is a 10:30 Mass in the cathedral with Hugo Barrantes Ureña, the archbishop, officiating.

Palm Sunday is called domingo de ramas in Spanish.

Monday night the plan calls for a public Stations of the Cross on Avenida 4 starting at 7 p.m. This is a recreation of the passion of Jesus.

Tuesday night there is a 6:30 p.m. concert by the Banda Nacional de San José in the cathedral.

Wednesday morning is the traditional offering of fruit and vegetables by those who maintain stalls at the Mercado Central. That is at 8:30 a.m. At 6:30 p.m. there is another band concert in the cathedral.

At 8:15 a.m. Thursday there are prayers to start a long day. At 9 a.m. the archbishop presides at the blessing of the ashes made from the palms that were used the previous Sunday. These ashes mixed with oils will be held until Ash Wednesday next year.

Then at 6 p.m. there is a Mass marking the tradition of the Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles.

At 7:30 p.m. there is a procession called Jesús atado a la columna. This recreates the biblical account of Christ being tied to a column and whipped by the Romans. The procession leaves Parque Central for the Iglesia El Carmen along Calle 0.

For the rest of the evening the cathedral is open for prayers and adorations.

Friday morning there is a 9 a.m. prayer service at the El Carmen church followed by a procession of Jesus carrying the cross to his execution. Actors participate. The procession leaves the EL Carmen church via Avenida 3 and then turns south at Calle 2 to pass in front of the Correos de Costa Rica building. Mary Magdalen joins the procession there and Veronica, she of the veil, joins the march at the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica building on Avenida Primera. The procession goes as far west as the Mercado Central. Various larger than life statutes join the procession at established points.

At 10:30 a.m. in the company of fire fighters, the procession heads back to Parque Central for a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

At 4 p.m. Friday there is a service in the cathedral commemorating the death of Jesus followed at 6 p.m. by a procession to the tomb of Christ. That procession is the largest of the season with apostles, Roman soldiers, Veronica and her veil, the municipal band, various religious organizations and the glass casket bearing the statue of the crucified Christ.

The line of march is north from the cathedral to Avenida Primera and then west to Calle 4 and then south to Avenida Segunda and then back to the cathedral.

Saturday at 4 p.m. is another procession marking the visit of Mary, the mother of Christ to His tomb. That procession leaves the El Soledad church.

At 7 p.m. there is a service in the cathedral that the church says is the most important of Semana Santa. Various blessings are planned.

Sunday at 10 a.m. is the procession marking the resurrection of Jesus. The line of march is from the Iglesia de la Merced to the cathedral where an Easter Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m.

All these events are open to the public and attract thousands of spectators. Tourists usually are surprised by the detail and the elaborate floats and statues that make up the processions.

Although the cathedral has the most processions during Semana Santa, there are similar events at local churches.

The Episcopal/Anglican Parish of The Good Shepherd also has a week of activities planned.

The church at Avenida 4 between calles 3 and 5 will mark Palm Sunday with a procession at 9 a.m.

Monday there is a noontime prayer at the church. Tuesday members of the congregation will be visiting the sick. There is a 9 a.m. service Wednesday and one at noon and another at 6 p.m. Thursday.

On Good Friday the members of the church will participate in a Way of the Cross at noon based on the Passion of Christ according to John. There is a 6 p.m. service Saturday and a 9 a.m. service Easter Sunday.

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