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Bad Weather Puts Damper on Holy Week in Spain

MADRID – Bad weather has kept half of Spain from staging its traditional processions during Holy Week, seven days of religious fervor that have become a major tourist attraction.

In fact, heavy rains in Seville stopped the six brotherhoods of hooded penitents, known for their “Madruga’” (Before Dawn) procession on Good Friday, from stepping outside their churches, forcing the first cancellation of the event since 1933 when political conflicts leading up to the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War stood in the way.

Not even the penitent brotherhood of Our Lady of Hope of Triana, which had not missed a procession because of rain since 1846, was able to leave its chapel before sunrise as it normally does.

The rain pouring down since Monday on the southern city has kept more than 20 brotherhoods from holding processions during Holy Week.

From Seville to Madrid, downpours caused most of the traditional processions scheduled for Thursday to be called off across Spain.

The rain and hail that fell persistently Thursday on the central city of Valladolid dampened the spirits of penitents and faithful who were all set to take part in the processions.

The faithful who did dare take to the streets, as in the city of Melilla, were drenched along their route from beginning to end.

The weather was kinder to the “picaos” of San Vicente de la Sonsierra in the northern province of La Rioja, who were able to go outdoors and accompany the procession of the Last Supper. These penitents scourge themselves during Holy Hour, a ritual they have observed since the 11th century.

The city of Zamora was fortunate as well and celebrated its procession of the Penitent Brotherhood of Jesus Recumbent and the singing of the Miserere.

Pamplona renewed Thursday the traditional Vow of the Five Holy Wounds, with which the northern city has expressed its gratitude since the year 1600 for being freed of the plague more than four centuries ago.

Foul weather struck again in Spain on Good Friday, making it likely that more processions would be suspended, with rain forecast in 23 provinces.

For that reason, Valladolid decided to celebrate indoors the Seven Last Words of Christ, which will now take place inside the cathedral instead of in the main square.

After a year of waiting and a long Lent, cities like Seville and Malaga in the south and Valladolid and Zamora in the central Castilian region have spent weeks preparing this sharing of religious sentiments, deep emotions and age-old traditions.

At this time of year, Spaniards show their religious fervor through traditions that are among the nation’s most important expressions of culture and art. EFE

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