Mystical Stations of the Cross in Assisi

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The Stations of the Cross in Assisi: a mystical Easter tradition


It’s Good Friday night.

You’re in Assisi, one of the most sacred and mystical places on earth. Street lights are turned off. Torches hung to the ancient stone walls provide a yellowish, feeble light.

A multitude of believers and pilgrims wait in the dark, in silence. In front of you, the majestic white columns of a roman temple, transformed in a catholic church centuries ago.

Suddenly, you here the sound of a drum, coming down from San Rufino Church. It’s a desperate drum, that resounds in the dark. A funeral drum.

Dum. Dum Dum.

No one says a word. The silence is unreal.

The sound of the drum gets closer.

Dum. Dum Dum.

Then you see it. The sad procession that commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

First comes the drum. Then the priests. And then the penitents, bare footed, a hood covering their head. They hold large, heavy wooden crosses on their shoulders. You can count tens of them. Behind them, the Virgin Mary effigy, her heart stabbed by seven daggers to commemorate her “seven pains”, carried on shoulders.

The procession moves forward slowly, stopping from time to time. They head to St Francis Basilica, where they will find the effigy of the dead Christ.

Behind them a multitude of believers walk slowly, in silence, and noiselessly disappears in the dark.

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The Via Crucis (the Stations of the Cross), depicting the final dramatic moments of the Passion of the Christ, is a medieval tradition that makes reference to the Gospels and is also known as Calvary, in reference to the mount of Jesus’s Crucifixion.

Assisi’s Via Crucis is less famous and well known than Rome’s, which is celebrated personally by the Pope. But for this reason, it is far more spiritual and the atmosphere is just unbelievable. Assisting to it, a few days ago, was a touching experience.

I would like to share some pictures of the procession. I shot them without flash, trying to capture the mysticism of the procession.

I hope you will like them.

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