Texto: Francisco Mínguez Lasheras Fotografías y maquetación: Moisés Ruiz Cantero Cartagena, febrero/2002
Holy-Week is, undoubtedly, the most important yearly event in Cartagena and, at the same time, the one which is lived with most intensity by the Cartageneros.
It is, above all, a commemoration of the Passion, Death, and
Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as being a popular festival.
A religious manifestation, with an enormous popular underground, in which there a very singular touch of Mediterranean
style - light, color, smell, music, order and passion, great passion
- lived in a unique way with the Holy-Week's Processions. HolyWeek that has as background the urban landscape of Cartagena, ascending over the slopes of five hills forming streets that break
into infinitive nooks, corners, grades, and stairs to reach innumerable panoramic views opened to sea, to the land and, always, to History.
A millenary History warranted by a magnificent archeological
legate. An incredibly rich archeological legacy (Roman Theatre, Punic Rampart, Torre Ciega, Roman Amphitheatre, Byzantine Rampart, â€Ś) mixed with Modernism , which imprints on the city,
along with its architecture, a peculiar character, an even colonial
particular flavor, the Plazas of Cavite and the Heroes of Santiago de Cuba, next to the port, Peral's Submarine and many
buildings and squares that create nooks of extraordinary beauty. However, during Holy-Week, the most singular sight is of the
glass-enclosed balconies on the facades of uncountable buildings,
transformed by the sun into a thousand reflections, and by night multiplied by the red-hot coals of the light of the Parade
Meanwhile, the geraniums, the little gypsies and the flowery grass cover in violent reds, that go from pale and delicate rosĂŠ
to the carmine-purple; the flower-gardens from which the palm-
trees grow in proud verticality contrasting with the generous
leafiness of the most beautiful rubber trees that we can imagine, that like great cathedrals grow up pointing out, especially, the spring in Cartagena, pride of Cartageneros.
Cartagena's Holy-Week is eternal spring, weighted down by
History, of the religious, of the sentimental, and where a number of personal, familiar, social and anthropological circumstan-
ces are going to condition every one of the parts of the difficult, incredible, complex of forms, which make up and constitute this Holy-Week of Cartagena, declared of National Touristic Interest.
A week, strangely enough made up of 10 days, that goes from
Friday "of the Sorrows", day of the Virgin of Charity, excellent
Neopolitan image, Patron of Cartagena, to Easter Sunday. And
during which four Brotherhoods and nearly 50 passionate groups will march, day by day, harmonizing in almost 20 pas-
sionate corteges in which the senses will feel the miracle which
makes the spectator and processionest both vibrate with a
supremely barroque exaltation, perceiving the beauty put at the service of the Passion of Cartagena : its Holy-Week
HIS T ORY
BR O TH E R H O O D
Four like the mystical rivers, four like the walls of heavenly Jerusalem, four like the evangelists, four like the four letters of
the divine name - YHVH - - GOD -, are the brotherhoods, axis of the Holy-Week in Cartagena.
And four colors define them: Purple: Passion and Penitence ; Red: Blood, Fire and Love ; White: Light and Purity ; Black: Mourning .
Chromatics that are multiplied, combined and irradiate in a pro-
digy of creativity in the multicolor dresses made of satins and
velvets, graceful capes, erected cowls and sublime embroideries, day by day, procession by procession, they form the Thirds
- perfect symphony and algebra - in the compassed and inimitable parades, that integrate each cortege.
The most ancient brotherhood is the Royal and Illustrious
Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene (Marrajos). The date of its foundation is unknown although its origins to back to the last years of the XVI century, or first years of the XVII century.
Popularly, its constitution is linked with the Fishermen's
Fraternity, from which it takes the name by which everyone knows it: Marrajo s. This belongs to a legend, according to which some fishermen from La AzohĂa - small village on the coast belonging to the municipality - captured a fish, named
Marrajo, that was brought into the port at dawn. The fish was chopped up and put up for sale to the public and load carriers.
Not being stipulated the amount of taxes, the money from the sale was given to the Jesus Nazarene Brotherhood. Thus began
the custom of giving the amount of the sale of all those Marrajos
that were fished every year. The village, by habit, got used to
calling the Brothers of this brotherhood, by the name of
Marrajos. The brotherhood owns a chapel in the Santo Domingo
Church, inaugurated in 1732, with a notable barroque retable. Pope Clement XI, in 1716 granted a bull to its brothers with many indulgences. In the same way, in 1857, Pius IX gave anot-
her bull with new indulgences to the people who went to the liturgic ceremonies in the chapel of the Brotherhood.
In ancient times, it organized the processions in the “Amargura
Street” and the “Holy Burial”, the dawn and night of Good Friday, respectively, adding to these ones those on Holy Monday and Saturday, and organizing three in the dawn of Easter Friday, being these ones the ones that are actually set out in the streets.
Its distinctive color is purple, and its emblem is a medal with a Latin cross in its field, on the sides the abbreviation in initials
J.N., and it is trimmed by a crown of thorns, that has a coronel, the royal crown. Shield that dates from 1920, date when the
Marrajos gave the title of Honorific Big Brother to King Alfonso XIII, distinction that King Juan Carlos I has today.
The Pontific, Royal and Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Father
Jesus in the "Painful Throne of the Capture and Hope of the
Salvation of the Souls" (Californians) was started on June 13th 1747 before the inquisitor Diego José de la Encina, commissary
of the Holy Office of the Inquisition of the Kingdom, and Priest
holder of the Parish of Santa María, where it is erected canonicaly, and where it has a chapel of its property.
In 1755 it formed a brotherhood with the Royal Brotherhood of our Lady of Hope in Madrid, linking to its shield two criss-cros-
sed anchors, symbol of hope, as their actual appearance, dating from 1772.
According to some documents of the Brotherhood, King Charles III belonged to this brotherhood in 1783. With the initiative of the Brotherhood, it was erected a monument to that king was
erected, inaugurated in June 1990, by Their Majesties the Kings of Spain.
Its brothers were known by the name of Californians, according
to the tradition that short after the Brotherhood was constituted,
some seamen who had collaborated in the expeditions of the Vice-King Carlos Francisco de Croix in California lands, became members of the brotherhood and gave it a great impulse.
Pope Benedict XIV granted a bull with indulgences in 1750. The Brotherhood had as main means of subsistence the charities that
were given in the Dockyard Gate when the operators of the
Maestranza came out of work, and also from the entries from the chant of the mortal sin , Wednesday nights, when the brothers
walk with lights and bells singing couplets that gave warnings
to the mortals about the dangers of dying condemned men, moving them to piety.
They also exploited a game named bochas where they celebra-
ted bullfights and comedies.
Initially they organized the procession of Holy Wednesday,
extending it, later, to Friday of the Sorrows, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Tuesday, the days on which they celebrate their processions today.
Its emblematic color is red, and its emblem consists of two crisscrossed anchors, holding in its middle a still light, symbol of the Capture, and crowned by the Spanish Royal Crown.
The Royal and Illustrious Brotherhood of out Father Jesus Resuscitated was set up in the midst of the Marraja Brotherhood, as a group, in 1940. Its first procession, however,
was not materialized until the Holy Week in 1943. On December 29th of that year it is constituted as a brotherhood with own entity.
It has as distinctive color white, and its emblem is constituted by the initial R put on a cross, born from a circle of clouds, and
surrounded by potencies, all framed by an olive branch and a
palm. Since 1987, on the occasion of the honor nomination of Big Brother to Prince Felipe de Borb贸n y Grecia, the Royal Crown
was incorporated into its shield and the title of "Royal" to the Brotherhood, granted by his majesty the King Juan Carlos on September 14th of the indicated year. Before that, since 1984, it has the title of Illustrious, granted by the Bishop of Cartagena on July 18th 1984.
It organizes a procession the morning of Easter Sunday, being very special because of its colorfulness and happiness of its evangelic message. It is the star, together with the withdrawal of
the Virgin of Beautiful Love , in Santa Mar铆a de Gracia Church,
of one of the most emotive acts of the processions in Cartagena, when after the traditional chant of "salve" crowns the passiona-
te cortege of every year.
The very Noble, Devote, Most Illustrious and Pontific Brotherhood of the Confraternity of Knights of the Holy Christ of Succor was founded in the year 1691 by Pedro Colon de
Portugal de la Cueva y Enrique, duke of Veragua and General
Captain of the Galleys of Spain, approving its primitive constitution on February 2nd of the same year.
The creation of the Brotherhood has its origins in the portentous fact which occured on March 13th 1689, according to which
Manuel Colon de Portugal Ayala y Faxardo, second son of the dukes of Veragua, being 22 years old, gets miraculously cured
from an illness that had him "in the last stringencies of life".
The Brotherhood, along with its more than three hundred years has lived three different ages, that are the same as other situations of declination and extinction, and successful new re-foun-
dations. These are dated, apart from the original, in 1691, in 1869, and 1961. The Brotherhood actually preserves its chapel in
the ruins of Santa Mar铆a la Vieja Church, where it crowned its Christ on January 21st 1691.
The Brotherhood of the Succor, founded by thirty-three noble knights of the city, is because of its austerity and eminent peni-
tential character, the counterpoint of the rest of the passionate parades in Cartagena. Part of the procession goes through the old medieval district, boundaries of the Roman Theatre, a plethoric area of characteristic and History.
Its distinctive color, according to the foundational rule, is pur-
ple, although after the re-foundation in the third epoch it adopted Black.
Its shield is a big heart hugging other thirty-three hearts inside
it, with a crown of thorns, terminated with the four spikes and the cross, and surrounded by the Latin saying Ubi enim thesau-
rus vester ist, ibi & cor vestrum erit , and the collar of the insigne Order of the Gold Tois贸n.
Ancient History those of every one of the four passionate
Brotherhoods of Cartagena, that integrate the council of Holy-
Week Brotherhoods official organism, dynamist of the HolyWeek in Cartagena.
Brotherhoods all linked, directly or indirectly, with the sea, with the so characteristic Mare Nostrum , of this Mediterranean city
where so many famous characters passed through, like Hannibal, Scipion, Carlos I, or the famous author of Don Quijote,
Miguel de Cervantes, that had described in his journey to Parnasse, the port of Cartagena with the following verses: "With this, little by little, I reached the port.
To which the people from Carthago Gave its name.
Closed to all winds And covered.
To whose clear and Singular renown
Bows down every port Bathed by the sea
Discovered by the sun and Sailed on by man."
T H E
S A C R E D
I M A G E
Art, that constitutes the expression of every cultural moment,
and, at the same time, is an integrated element in culture, has a special attention by the most notable religious motives, and especially, by the issue of Passion.
That is what happens in Cartagena, where the public cult, espe-
cially in Holy-Week, with unique iconographic representations, deals with the main points of Passion, and also in honor of some
saints whose veneration is deeply rooted within the people of Cartagena, for different reasons, is singular. With an extense and rich sculptoric manifestation, authentic cathecism through the streets of the city every Holy-Week.
Images that acquire body and soul when they parade through Cartagena - real monuments of ephemeral architecture- among
their own musics, with true fervor and special feeling inherited from generation after generation, and with the accompaniment of the Thirds of penitents with their sublime order.
More than a hundred images are shown, since the coming in of
Jesus in Nazareth to the Resurrected Jesus, that passion step by
step, image by image, with a splendid sculptoric representation where the most famous artists from Francisco Salzillo, the uni-
versal Murcian sculptor paradigm of baroque religious sculptu-
re, to the genius Mariano Beulliure or the insigne JosĂŠ Capuz, going through a wide catalogue of other sculptors and makers
of images inheritors of the best Spanish sculpture tradition, the sacred image of our coming out of he inspiration of their most illustrious creators.
Christs and Virgins. Christ of Succor, of Compassion, of the
Capture, of the Flagelation, of the Sentence, of the Lanced,
Resurrected Jesus, … Lonely of Consolation, Virgin of the Rosary, of the First Sorrow, of Hope, of Sorrow, of Piety, of
Loneliness, of Beautiful Love, … Marvelous groups truly scenic.
The Last Supper, Prayer in the Gardens, Judas' Kiss, Coronation of Thrones, Descent, Burial, Appearence of Jesus to Saint Thomas, to María Magdalena, to the Apostles, in
Tiberiades, … Saints and Apostles, like María Magdalena, Santiago, Saint Peter, Saint John Evangelist.
Images and images, having a life of their own in an unpara-
lleled catecism exalting the religious feeling of the city, acqui-
ring in Cartagena unique and marvelous peculiarities. Where the biblical speech becomes an accomplice of the urban speech
of the city giving special set by means of which, as in a dream, the woods turn into living flesh and God and the Virgin can see
themselves, really, through the streets of Cartagena during ten days.
Holy-Week in Cartagena, while at the same time commemora-
ting chronologically the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is proud of being, also passionate, and enthusiastic exaltation of art and beauty, where aesthetics reaches perfection.
Hence, images are carried on artistic thrones, extremely careful art works in wood-carvings gilded with fine gold, of exuberant
baroquism. And rather than moving, they walk. Because the thrones of Cartagena walk. They pass through the streets with a
measured compassed step, and ordered, as in the same thirds of
penitents, of their throne holders. The shoulders of the throne holder, who make the Christ and the Virgin and the Saints walk
through Cartagena measured by the compass of their passionate traditional marches, between the heady smell of thousands of
flowers and, impregnated by the whisper and peace that the Mediterranean, so close, offers.
And the gold is set making authentic miracles on satins and,
especially, on velvets, unique embroidery competing in banners,
on most beautiful tunics or on the unusual trains of monumen-
tality and proportion, that are worn by the images of the Virgins, leaving off being images to acquire body and soul, wit-
hin the passionate feeling with which Holy-Week is lived, the Passion, that is Cartagena's Passion.
And in the mantles of the Virgins, flaming in living gold, the brilliant images of Cartagena's days and nights are exhibited, filled up with spring, that is offered. It is the exuberant baroque, that wants to give satisfaction by giving the most beautiful sorrow of
The Mother in the passion of the Virgin. And art takes those
threads of gold, and can draw any lace or imitate any flower.
The Virgin's mantles flow and exhibit themselves overwhelmingly. They are a cascade of gold which loving anxiety wants
to pour out as an example of unlimited generosity. And it achieves it.
And if the ornament reaches between thrones and embroideries sublime degrees, it is not less the admiration that the gold and
silver work inspires, in which the silver and gold get a life of
their through the most exquisite prodigies of filigrane, that gravers, engravers and burins, from the hands of the most appre-
ciated artists, have achieved. Gold and Silver works, that are
converted into another element of popular theology, that is the Holy-Week in Cartagena, passionate, seductive, orthodox and heterodox at the same time.
Sumptuary arts that are elements of this Holy-Week that capti-
vates and enervates, and in which they are mixed in a unique treasury together with the monumentality of its thrones, its
embroideries, its gold and silver works, richness of clothing of its penitents, of its Thirds of Jews and Granadines, the military
cast of the military participation in the parades, the naturalness of the many "nazarenos" children, the celebration of acts as the
"Lavatory of Pilate" or "The Reencounterâ€?, the spectacular setting out of Saint Peter from the Military Dockyard, of the Jesus
Nazarene from the Fish Ware-house, or the multi-popular retirement of the Virgin thrones at the ending of each procession.
A unique week, that agglutinates above all, three symptomatic and distinctive characteristics, of light, flower and order, a whole series of distinctive strokes, that not breaking the har-
mony of its passing, gives a genuine diversity that leads you to multiple experiences more than singular.
T H E
P R O C E S S I O N S
If Holy-Week, the whole of it, is in Cartagena a paradigm of
the unusual, all the year and, even more specially, since the beginning of Lent, when from Ash Wednesday, with "The Call" the count-down starts to get to Friday of the Sorrows, and the
Heads of the Brotherhoods meet together to set, in a heritage liturgy, to put the procession in the streets and, after, in a popu-
lous manifestation, all Brotherhoods, to express the restrained agreement. No less important are the acts around the religious
music festival, the liturgical functions, the Proclamation, the
authentic and the true eclosion of the singular and genuine are its passionate corteges. Its processions.
A harmonic structured group that day by day, from Friday of
the Sorrows to Easter Sunday, departing from a unique cultural atmosphere, gets to take God out into the streets giving testimony of authentic faith.
Color and luminosity, music and silence, applause and tears,
prayer and tumult, a festival for feelings and for the soul, meet
in the processions of Cartagena, from which it could be said,
according to Jose Maria Pemรกn, that there is nothing more Catholic than Holy-Week in Cartagena.
Processions, that from the magnificence and richness of Holy Wednesday and Friday, to each of the other days of Holy-Week,
make this a unique spectacle. With aspects as suggestive as the Virgin of the Loneliness of Consolation, practically at the Gate of
the Roman Theatre, receiving on the morning of Friday of Sorrows a prayer converted into song, the popular "Salve".
Or those that meet on Easter Tuesday when the image of Saint
Peter, operator on the pay-role (Peter Marina Cartagena) of the
military dockyard, receives the permission of "franco de ría" from the Admiral and the procession leaves from the military
base escorted by a group of Marine soldiers, Santiago Apostol
starts his procession from the Naval Headquarters where he is given honors of Captain General, shouting the 21 orderly salvos
(His Majesty Juan Carlos I is the honorary president of the
Santiago Apostol Group), and Saint Juan Evangelist begins his procession in the Artillery Base. The three processions merge forming one single procession.
Or during the dawn of Maundy Thursday Saint Peter comes
back, after the Wednesday procession, accompanied by the sound of the "double step" music called The Rooster, to the
And the dawn of Good Friday, when since the very first minutes of the day, the Jews and the Granadines' lively march agitate
Cartagena. And the Image of Jesus Nazarene from the Fish
Dock run over the singular streets of the Fishermans District with an explosion of "saetas" and are given free fish soup, and
the Nazarene with the voice, non stopping, of "Where are you coming from? - From the Fish Dock - Where are you going? - To Santa Maria - Who are you taking with you? - Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Long Live Jesus!" they go to the meeting of Maria in the Path of Sorrows, that takes place in the Merced Square at dawn.
Or when the Virgin of Beautiful Love marches up, with a legionary step, the steep street of El Cañón on the luminous morning of Easter Sunday.
Everything is unique. And everything measured and calibrated with precision by the Cartagenero for his Holy-Week. Where
God is seen with eyes of a true miracle. The miracle of Cartagena's Holy-Week, Passion for Cartagena.
P A S S I O N
F O R
C A R TA G E N A
This is Cartagena's Holy-Week. Impossible to describe because there are no words to tell it, and not enough pictures to show
it. Expression of the faith and culture of a country. The country
of the Cartageneros. A secular legate of raw ancestry inherited generation after generation.
A magnificent union where religious feeling -the infinite to Godand the luminous details of a millenary city, city of cultural cross-roads, are linked, and from which there appear the richest and most magnificent reality of the Cartagenero: Holy-Week.
Cartagena, a city that watches the sea, watches God in the same
way, especially, when every year it commemorates the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And in the days of HolyWeek the whole city appears again, with the same spring.
Its modernist architecture is mixed with baroque architecture with its processional thrones and with a unique touch of its processions, that offer a unique aesthetical configuration in the city,
Cartagena's Holy-Week, you must live it in situ and, therefore,
feel it... and then you will feel it and live it as your own. Only in this way, lit by its light, among the ecstasy of its flowers and
deep inside the unique order you will understand what by any
other means would be impossible to understand. It is the pas-
A miracle in your hands.
sion of Cartagena, get passionate yourself as well with it.
semana santa de cartagena