Processione Venerdì _ Santo a Caltanissetta _ Ph. Paolo Barone
In Caltanissetta the Holy Week is characterized by particular rites. The Holy Thursday tradition arose around 1700 with the procession of the small “Vare” called Misteri, like the mystery of the “Passion of Christ”
The procession has undergone changes and evolutions over time both in its itinerary and in the number of Statues symbolizind the Way of the Cross, that today are 16 after adding the Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) and the Sacred Urn. These groups of statues are made of wood and papier-mâché and were realized by Biangardi father and son, being commissioned by some ancient social classes from Caltanissetta (bakers, miners…) and by different brotherhoods.
On Thursday evening the “vare”, decorated with flowers and fruits, reach the main square at sunset, followed by music bands from all over Sicily.
The procession goes through every street of the historical center until late at night, when it comes back to Piazza Garibaldi, where the last act takes place: the “Spartenza”, that is the separation of the “vare”.
The evening of Good Friday in Caltanissetta is the time of mourning and silence. From the ancient church “Lord of the City”, located in the popular district of San Francesco, a wooden Crucifix, probably from the 15th century, is carried in procession: It is the Black Christ (Black Christ) so named for its dark color, deeply worshipped by all citizens.
Tradition says that the Crucifix was found in a cave in the same disctrict, by two “fogliamari”, wild herbs pickers, and that the devotion towards it quickly spread so much to make it “the Lord of the city”. The “fogliamari”, which today belong to all social classes, wear a purple tunic and, barefoot as a sign of penitence, carry the gilded wooden crown guarding the Black Christ on their shoulders ,while all around everybody tune the ladate, lamentations in archaic Sicilian dialect.
The procession is followed by all the maestranze (craftmen representatives) dressed in mourning garments, led by the bishop and behind him the clergy, nuns, monks, confraternities and religious congregations. The Black Christ is followed by a large crowd, mostly barefoot, to free themselves from their vow or to pray for good graces. (fonte Pro Loco Caltanissetta)