Good Friday traditions, solemn rites held today

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines - Thousands of Catholics around the country are expected to join the traditional solemn processions of religious images representing the Passion of Christ, His crucifixion, death, and burial in keeping with a centuries-old Good Friday tradition.

Observed as one of the highlights of the Semana Santa (Holy Week), a set list of life-size images and key religious figures will be paraded around the streets a few hours after 3 p.m., the time Jesus was believed to have died on the cross, in elaborately decorated and well-lighted carriages. The carriages will be followed by parish church officials, representatives of religious groups, and devotees holding candles and holy rosaries.

The set of religious images is similar to that of the Holy Wednesday procession with the addition of the Pieta, Christ being brought down from the Cross, and the Santo Sepulcro (Dead Christ). The last image in the procession
is traditionally the Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowful Mother), the grieving Blessed Mother garbed in black, mourning the death of her Son.

In San Mateo, Rizal, and in Meycauayan, Bulacan, around 62 life-size images usually comprise the Good Friday procession. In Baliuag, Bulacan, some 80 religious images will be paraded through the streets. In Sorsogon City, barefoot devotees will join the two-hour procession through the city streets in a display of piety and reverence.

Other religious observances today include praying the Acts of Reparation, the Veneration of the Cross, meditation on the Seven Last Words, praying the Way of the Cross, and the presentation of the "senakulo" or Passion plays.

The Book of Common Prayer designates Good Friday as a day of fasting, abstinence, penance, and alms-giving. No bells will be rung in churches today, while the holy water fonts will be emptied in preparation for the blessing of the water during the Easter vigil. After three o'clock, the faithful are encouraged to keep a solemn and prayerful disposition.

Meanwhile, the annual Good Friday procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, will be held at 5 a.m. today. The "Siete Palabras" will be held at noon, the Veneration of the Cross at 3 p.m., and the Santo Intierro (Sacred Interred Christ) at 5 p.m.