For the past week the fabulous Semana Santa Pasos have been on display in churches all over Seville, waiting for their outing during processions which start today and last for a week. Sadly, after waiting months for much-needed rain, it has arrived at the worst time, and is forecast to continue. So much work goes into preparations for Semana Santa for months in advance, but if there is any chance of rain the pasos and penitents stay indoors.
You can see why. The pasos are covered in expensive fabrics and gold leaf and the effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mary are often valuable antiques in their own right. I’m staggered by how huge and heavy the pasos look up close, and pity and admire the men (costaleros, see them practising uncovered in previous blog) who are hidden beneath, carrying them for hours through the streets. The gold is just gold leaf on wood, or it would surely be impossible, but the silver is genuine.
Before being placed on the pasos, the Virgin Mary’s everyday clothes are changed for her spectacular Semana Santa robes. This is done privately, and only women may change her dress. In addition to all the silver polishing, it’s a special task for some to melt the ends of the huge candles to ensure they all reach the right height for the display and stay in their holders. Gorgeous flower displays are often added too for the big day.
In my neighbourhood of Alameda today, I saw the occasional Nazarene (penitient), walking through the rain to their church, hoping that their parade would still take place.
I’m pleased to say that early this evening, the rain stopped and some of the postponed processions were able to take place – fingers crossed for the rest of the week.