Postcard from Cadiz, Spain: Final Semana Santa processions pass through her streets

From early afternoon to the wee hours of the morning, the winding streets of Cadiz have been entangled with crisscrossing Semana Santa processions.

Banners and the color of robes worn by members of the different cofradias distinguish the sponsoring group for each procession. Most have only two actual floats, but the marching continues for hours as they transport their particular Virgin Mary and portion of the tale of Jesus’ trials and tribulations from plaza to plaza.

The mood of the spectators is mainly reverential, although the end of each procession is followed by the vendors’ carts offering candies, including caramel lollipops in the shape of the pointed capirotes.

The most excitement is generated by watching the teams of costaleros struggle to squeeze the floats in and out of the church doors with barely an inch to spare in any direction. And the music. The brass bands are filled with more talented musicians than it seems possible for a city of the size of Cadiz to possess.

And finally, the processions conclude with the resurrected figure of Jesus standing unburdened atop his Easter Sunday paso.

Not a bunny in sight.

Postcard from Cadiz, Spain: Jueves Santo processions stretch toward dawn

As Saint John (I think?) headed down the street, we were returning to our apartment about 7:30 last night. During our meandering hour or two walk we encountered this float bearing the evangelist, Mary the wife of Cleopus, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and Jesus with the cross a multitude of times.

Their swaying journey on the golden paso was not close to over for the night. Perhaps they were still Cathedral-bound because costaleros in purple t-shirts slipped into the procession to replace the team underneath porting the heavy load within the next block. The back of this float has a small emblem of Hercules on it, which seems appropriate when you watch a team hoist it back up after lowering it.

The Mister spotted the putto with a nail-puller, perhaps indicative of the historical trade engaged in by some members of the velvet capirote-ed cofradia sponsoring the procession. (I have noticed the role of hard-working putti in the church often is overlooked. Yes, sometimes they appear fluttering around in fluffy clouds, but more often petite putti spend eternity supporting enormous statues, altars, organs, columns and even soaring domes.)

I am unsure how many processions were weaving their way around our neighborhood last night, but they do march for hours. Floats pass through the Cathedral, but do not encamp overnight. They must make the return trip to their home churches and squeeze back through the doors.

Our street might not quite be a paso-possible width, but processions were crossing at both ends less than a block away in addition to a square a block away. This crossroads location meant the procession-watchers on foot would come down our little rarely trafficked street in large, chattering groups before and after each passing.

They awakened me in time to hear the brass bands and thudding drums about 12:30 and 2:30. The 4:30 crowd sounded much smaller. At 6:30 this morning it seemed a second more refreshed and sedate shift of faithful followers was filtering out to view the final float trying to reach home before dawn.

How will they all recover in time to participate in Viernes Santo?

Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: The patron saint of nerds doesn’t stand a chance against the mighty tile Mary

The patron saint of Sevilla is San Isidro, Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636), Archbishop of Sevilla. I failed to find what miracles were credited to him to attain sainthood, and I think he died a natural death. His major accomplishment was his encyclopedic Etymologiae, collecting and preserving numerous early written works of antiquity.

But, wandering the streets of Sevilla, it is obvious La Virgen reigns. She lords over everything everywhere. Upon arriving, I decided to snap a photo of every tile mural of her I encountered.

It quickly became apparent that was absurd. Although the Mister is patient, we would have to stop at almost every corner to accomplish that. Plus, how many photos are allowed in one blog post?

But today might be the time for San Isidro’s popularity to soar. Au courant, he is the patron saint of the Internet, computers and nerds.

From now on, I will try to utter San Isidro’s name when I encounter computer frustration instead of my usual over-employed four-letter words.

The poor saint does not stand much of a chance in Sevilla though. Internet powers pale next to the beauty of the abundant tile tributes to the Virgin Mary found along her streets.

Many more azulejo postcards, not all La Virgen, will be posted in the coming weeks….