Easter is a unique time to go to Santiago de Compostela, to visit the tomb of the St James and to experience the Holy Week processions.
The Spanish turn the streets into an improvised stage to dramatise the death of Christ and the resurrection during Holy Week. During the processions, you will see members of the “Cofradías” or Brotherhoods wearing different colour robes. Each of these Brotherhoods look after a specific “paso” or religious float.
What are the Brotherhoods?
Family and tradition are hugely important to Spanish culture; family friendships (and feuds) go back generations and it’s expected the children will be a part of the same clubs and groups as their parents. The brotherhoods of Spain play a huge roll in day to day life, but what are they exactly? Let’s take a closer look.
Why did they form?
During the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, voluntary organisations formed to help the nobility maintain order throughout their lands. These groups essentially acted as police officers or vigilantes. Over time, their importance in maintaining law and order became less and less important, especially during the reign of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs toward the end of the 1400s. Eventually they were stripped of their official powers. However, this didn’t stop them from being important pillars in the community. They still held their values of social responsibility and shifted their tasks from that of law keepers to that of community leaders.
Today, the main role of these brotherhoods is to organise religious festivals in their communities. The main event is Holy Week however there are many other festivals throughout the year. All the brotherhoods in Spain train year round to carry the large floats on their shoulders during the Easter Processions.
The Easter Processions are the most famous of the Brotherhood activities. The members are all hidden under tall hoods surrounding large floats which depicts a scene from the Passion of the Christ. 20 people at a time will carry a float on their shoulders. Members switch at regular intervals to prevent injuries however, even so, specific units of hospitals open to deal with injuries caused from this act.
One of the many Brotherhoods that take part in the Easter Week in Santiago de Compostela is the Brotherhood of the Vera Cruz (The True Cross). Their existence goes back to the year 1548 when it was founded in the convent of San Francisco to commemorate the institution of the eucharist by means of a procession featuring the float of The Last Dinner.
Religious Programme 2019
The Holy Week events are as follows:
13th April – Easter Concert
There is a special Easter concert by The Municipal Band of Santiago at the Monastery of San Domingos de Bonaval on Costa de San Domingos street on Saturday, the 13th of April at 9pm. Free entrance.
18th April – Holy Thursday
7:30 pm. Church of San Francisco. Procession of ‘La Última Cena del Salvador’
11:30 pm. Church of San Agustín. Procession of ‘Jesús Flagelado’
19th April – Good Friday
10:30 am. Church of San Miguel dos Agros. Procession of The Holly Encounter
6:00 pm. Church of Nosa Señora da Quinta Angustia. Procession of ‘La Quinta Angustia’
8:00 pm. Church of San Domingos de Bonaval. Procession of ‘El Santo Entierro’
11:00 pm. Church of Santa María Salomé. Procession of ‘La Virgen de la Soledad
20th April – Holy Saturday
8:00 pm. School of A Inmaculada. Procession of ‘Los Hermanos’
21st April – Easter Sunday
10:30 am. Church of San Francisco. Procession of ‘El Cristo Resucitado’
For more information about the Holy Week events, please click on the link below: