Italy is a Catholic country. Around 90% of the population – so about 57 million people – describe themselves as Catholic, although not all practice their faith. Good Friday (Venerdi Santo) is marked throughout Italy by parades to remember the Passion of Christ. Spello is no exception, so the streets of the old town were closed to traffic (a blessing in itself!) and candles were lit throughout the streets. Our entrance looked enchanting.
The historic centre exhibited large paintings of each of the 14 Stations of the Cross, and this formed the route for the evening procession (Via Crucis d’Autore). The crowds (hundreds of people) followed behind the group of priests and church officials. The local mayor and polizia were also present.
At each Station of the Cross the procession halted and extracts from the Gospel were read. Then the main priest – with his microphone in hand – led the followers in prayers and singing as they walked to the next Station.
We are not religious, but we are keen to experience the local traditions, and so we joined in with the procession (though not the prayers and singing!) around the steep streets in the shadow of churches and other buildings; those stones have overseen processions like this for hundreds of years, and hopefully will continue to do so for many more. A moving evening.