Whether you are religious or not, there are few more interesting spectacles than the faithful following in processions behind images of their crucified christ and the virgin Mary, infused with deep felt sentiments and strongly held traditions, you can expect weeping, wailing, incense smoke and men in hoods among many other strange sights at this time of year on Gran Canaria.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is in the middle of one of the biggest holiday celebrations of the annual calendar, with many events celebrated in vigour and intense, devout religiosity. Welcome to Semana Santa, Holy Week.
Many of the processions runs through the historic centre of the capital (as well as several of the older towns and villages on the island) and are often loaded with symbolism and history, but still manage to maintain their own unique aesthetic and identity, followed by a large audience as we move through the week.
The passage of these revered images, their iconography through the unique colonial quarter of the capital, Vegueta, offers an unforgettable experience during Easter.
Some of the main processions include…:
25 MARCH, PALM SUNDAY
Palm Sunday, (last weekend) commemorates the triumphant entrance of the christian central character to Jerusalem on his donkey. The morning procession from Parroquia de San Bernardo, Ermita de San Telmo includes an image of the fabled Jesus on a donkey followed by children carrying palms and olive branches.
This procession travels some of the oldest streets in the capital the route includes the streets: San Telmo, Mayor de Triana, Perdomo, Pérez Galdós, Buenos Aires, Parque San Telmo.
That same evening a hooded “Health and Hope” procession ( Cristo de la Salud y La Virgen de la Esperanza de Vegueta ) follows with the penitential procession of the Brotherhood and Guild of Nazarenes from the Parish of Santo Domingo de Guzmán in the evening. This procession, Andalusian style carrying two images includes over a hundred members wearing tunics with hoods,
Again this is an historic route around some of the most important places in the capital: Plaza de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, García Tello, San Marcos, Fernando Galván, Reyes Católicos, Dr. Chil, Reloj, Obispo Codina, Catedral (penance place ), Obispo Codina, Callejón de San Marcial, Plazoleta de los Álamos, Plaza del Pilar Nuevo, Felipe Massieu Falcón, Espíritu Santo, Reloj, Doctor Chil, Doctor Verneau, San Marcos, García Tello, Plaza de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
28 MARCH, GOOD WEDNESDAY
Los Dolores de Triana procession. The solemn procession of the Brotherhood and Guild of Our Lady of Sorrows from the Parish of San Bernardo and San Telmo starts at 19:00 and returns around 22:30. This procession, popularly known as the “Brotherhood of Sorrows of Triana”, is sober and austere in style, as the faithful accompany the Dolorosa (“pained one”) walking behind her son, so full of anguish, and bitterness, that her face is revered for having the serene beauty of an afflicted mother, with her hands outstretched in a plea for his immolated life of. Men in black and women in black wearing Canarian mantillas participate in this procession.
Route : Parroquia en el Parque de San Telmo, Mayor de Triana, Travieso, General Bravo, Pérez Galdós, ( Penitential Station in the Sanctuary of San Antonio de Padua ) , Pérez Galdós, Perdomo, Mayor de Triana – Parque de San Telmo
Starts at 19:30 at arrives back to the Parroquia de Santo Domingo at 00:30.
This procession is staged along strategic points in the historic old quarter district of Vegueta; the meeting of the Holy Women and St. John with the christ on his way to Golgotha, where the crucifixion is supposed to have taken place. The first stop is at the exit from the Temple, with the holy man carrying the cross on his back and meeting Simon the “Cyrene” on the way to Plaza de Santa Ana.
At the second station, San Juan and La Magdalena, go in search of the christ, finding him in the Plaza del Espíritu Santo. After the second station, they visit La Verónica and Our Lady of Sorrows of Vegueta, and together they march in search of Jesus.
Once found by St. John and Mary Magdalena, they go to give the news to the Virgin Mary, who they find at the gates of the Casa de Colón. On the way to St. John, Mary Magdalena and La Dolorosa again meet Jesus, the Holy Meeting takes place in the Plaza de Santa Ana. Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus, unfolding the Holy Face Cloth. Later they make Penance in the Cathedral -Basilica de Santa Ana.
Good places to watch from are the Plaza De Santa Ana and Plaza de Santa Domingo
29 MARCH, HOLY THURSDAY
Leaving at midnight to arrive at the Hermitage for around 02.30. Via Crucis in silence accompanying the image of the Holy Christ of the Good End, first brought out in 1941, from dawn on Holy Thursday until Good Friday morning.
Before leaving the hermitage the Miserere is sung. A bell marks each of the stops and the restarts of the procession. Celebrating the Stations of the Cross in places where wooden crosses previously have been hung in various mansions of Vegueta to mark the end of the season. Expect men in hoods with incense smoke lanterns and tal staffs
Route: Plaza del Espíritu Santo, Castillo, Doctor Chil, Plaza de San Agustín, Procurador Luis Mesa Suárez, San Agustín, Espíritu Santo, Reloj, Obispo Codina, lateral de la Plaza de Santa Ana, Castillo, Plaza del Espíritu Santo
30 MARCH, GOOD FRIDAY
Leaving at 11:00 and arriving back at 13:00.
Women dressed in traditional White Canarian scarves, The Sorrowful follow the path of the pain of the Mother behind her Son, Crucified.
The cortege prays with the Holy Rosary and upon arrival at the Plaza, before entering the Temple, the Bishop imparts a Blessing from the Balcony of the Episcopal Palace.
At the entrance to the Cathedral Chopin’s Funeral March is sung. And following the procession, the Sermon of Seven Words is celebrated.
Route : Obispo Codina, Espíritu Santo, Reyes Católicos, Doctor Chil, Plaza del Espíritu Santo, Castillo, Plaza de Santa Ana, Obispo Codina to the Cathedral.