The Rites of the Holy Week and the Confraternities

The local Holy Week rites are based on models from the Iberian religious traditions, dating back to the Spanish presence in Sassari over four centuries. In the week preceding Easter the Arch-confraternities of the Holy Cross and of Gonfalone, of Oration and Death, of the Servants of Mary and the confraternities of the Holy Sacrament and the Holy Mysteries, all of ancient origins, organise processions that cross the old city centre to the sound of drums, in an atmosphere that is highly evocative. The Rites start off on Holy Tuesday with the procession of the Confraternity of the Mysteries, whose members, dressed in purple robes, bear wooden statues of the Passion of Christ through the town. Holy Wednesday is the day of the procession of Our Lady of Sorrows carried out by the Arch-confraternity of the Sacred Sacrament. On Maundy Thursday there is a mass in Coena Domini (Mass of the Lord’s Supper) in the Church of the Holy Trinity with the ceremony of foot-washing, traditionally organised by the Arch-confraternity of the Holy Cross and of Gonfalone (also known as the “white disciplined ones”). Following an ancient tradition, after the mass in Coena Domini, the altar with the shrine in which the consecrated Host is placed is adorned with flowers and candles. An unusual and typical decoration is that of the Sepolcri (Sepulchres), which is composed of plates on which shoots of corn and legumes have been grown in the dark. The faithful visit the Sepolcri in thousands, making the streets and squares of the city extremely lively. Every day in the Church of S. Antonio Abate, the Arch-confraternity of the Servants of Mary celebrates rites connected with the Crown of the Seven Sorrows of Holy Mary. On the morning of Good Friday, the same confraternity oversees the solemn procession of the Madonna of the Seven Sorrows, which visits seven churches in the Old Town. On the evening of Good Friday, the Church of the Holy Trinity hosts the para-lithurgical service of Iscravamentu or the Descent of Christ from the Cross, overseen by the Arch-confraternity of the Holy Cross. This moment of great religious intensity is followed by the Procession of the Dead Christ and by the Stations of the Cross with stops in the different churches in the Old Town. For about a decade, a rite has taken place on Easter Sunday in Piazza Colonna Mariana that is a re-visitation of the meeting between the resurrected Christ and Our Lady


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