The Mysteries of Procida

misteriThe Dead Christ parading in the procession of Good Friday is the very soul of Procida, the quintessential of the man’s personal and intimate pain. These abandoned and bleeding limbs are venerated by many people. There is no superstition, just a great faith that drives anyone to the Church of St. Thomas Aquinas (via Marcello Scotti ), where the headquarters of the Congregation of Turchini and is exposed throughout the year, to feel the need instinctive to accept his hand, especially now that the reliquary of plexiglas that protects it, is to be replaced.

«It is a deep emotion that shakes all souls and invites those who attend the sacred procession to meet him with more privacy here», confirms the Prior Gabriele Scotto Di Perta. «Somebody gave him gratitude for the objects in gold, but there are many moments of inner reflection that affect even those who do not believe, that cannot help but bend over with emotion in this great sacrifice».
If you ask man from Procida who is the author of the statue, he will answer “a prisoner who suffered in the prison of Terra Murata”, but it is a belief, even if it collects more intrinsic values, in fact, nearly a century separates the construction of the Palace D'Avalos (1830), the realization of the work, as the basement “Neapoli 1728 Carminus Lantriceni sculptor”.
The wooden sculpture of the dead Christ, which is carried in procession on the shoulders of 8 people who take turns in shifts of 8, was created by Carmine Lantriceni and was commissioned by Turchini. Although it never became a museum exhibit, as is the case for the Veiled Christ which is kept in the Chapel of San Severo in Naples and the Deposition of Christ in marble in the Cathedral of Capua, is considered a true work of art of the early Neapolitan eighteenth century.
To understand the devotion that explodes during the Good Friday procession, at a time that combines folklore and religion, we must go back in time to 1588, at birth, at the behest of the Jesuits, the Brotherhood of Turchini, in addition to promoting the cult Marian of the Immaculate Conception, have always had a great passion and attention to the Dead Christ.
It is interesting to know, as reported by physician Giacomo Retaggio, the historian of the island and author of several publications, such as the history of Procida has intersected with that of the Clergy, this time until the middle of last century significantly (we are talking about 80 priests for a population of just 10,000 inhabitants). A presence that has characterized the confessional climate that if one side was a limit to the libertarian and secular component, has helped with the development of the cultural welfare as has happened elsewhere, given that the priests could read and write.
The procession has not suffered a setback even in time of war, as in 1939, when running out the roles, have also been involved foreign women until then, and so it will happen this year with the presence of five sisters in the Brotherhood, as it did in the central Church. The only memory that is going to run out is probably one of the "Zeddose" which in the local dialect of Procida indicates the "untouched", presumably chaste girls that wearing a veil on her head, went on Holy Wednesday in the Church of St. Michele to take part the penitential procession.
Anyone is aware of this now, knows that the Good Friday procession is not a tradition handed down from father to son, but from the entire population, even those who do not participate! This parade is the sacred homage to the pride and the strong identity of this people: there is no Procidans who in the night between Thursday and Friday will not be attacked by the anxiety of the moment.
It is said that there is not a place in the world that has not seen a Procidan man: Procida is also dedicated to the navigation. It is easy to imagine how many sailors are still far away from home, sad because they cannot take part, many others do everything to be there, as told by Carmine Scotto di Carlo, who is looking forward to this holiday season’s nephew Gabriele from Genoa and his son Carlo from England.
Every child and even those who are no longer, keep in mind the memory, probably as the first of his life. Everyone is committed to the realization of the "Mysteries", the Biblical references introduced at the beginning of 700 in sacred procession, set up thanks to the skill and craftsmanship placed on wooden stands, transported exclusively by hand despite the considerable weight. Preparation starts after Carnival: from the mason to lawyer each devotes time, even late at night, contributing economically to their achievement and that it is possible to see up to forty days after the exposure in the Church of St. Giacomo.
«At the age of five - says Giacomo Retaggio - I took part in my first mystery with the ordeal in the bottle and later at 7, as the Samaritan at the Well, I remember that I had to translate, despite my young age, the Latin inscription to those who repeatedly asked. My grandchildren, Andrea and Gaia, began as all dressed as Angels. Most of the dresses have a fascinating story, one that I will cherish at least 100 years old, is a gift received from my wife’s grandfather, Almerindo Manzo, but there are many seamstresses and embroiderers especially, that they reproduce in every detail».
Hard to say which is the truest moment. «On Good Friday the Church at 4 am is already crowded, for a brief vigil. It is not yet dawn - tries to explain the Prior - and the procession with the image of Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows moves to St. Michele Church, historic seat of the Congregation. There is great pathos when they cross the exit to begin this long snake that parades through the streets of Procida with about 2,600 participants, singing funeral marches as "Miserere ", "Salvete, Christi Vulnera" and "Stabat Mater” anticipated by the throbbing sound of a trumpet followed by three drumbeats». «Many are impressed - said Carmine Scotto di Carlo - from the chains that are dragging. Crawling on the paving stones there is a noise that anticipates the arrival, creepy and often indicates fatigue, so much so that there is an Ischian saying that says ‘even if I had to pull the chains in Procida».
Always following the saying “a processione scennev e ‘o mast inchiuvav”, who knows the preparations for Good Friday in Procida, knows that someone might still be there, busy until the last minute.

 

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