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Five centuries of traditional piety Precisely at 10 PM, every year before Easter, on Maundy Thursday, in the center of the island of Hvar, the "Following the Cross" procession starts, and lasts until the following morning. For a full five centuries, this most expressive depiction of traditional piety connects six parishes on Hvar: Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, SvirÄ?e, Vrbanj, and Vrboska, joining them in faith and prayer on a 22-kilometer journey. The procession heads out from each of these towns in clockwise motion, and during the night they visit all the surrounding parishes in this pilgrimage without the processions ever meeting. In the morning, around seven AM, the most emotional part of the pilgrimage takes place upon return to their parish when the pilgrims are joyously awaited by their parish priest and locals who didn't participate in the night pilgrimage but instead waited on the procession from other parishes and prayed together with them in church. The cross-bearer, barefoot or donning socks, leads the procession carrying a cross that weighs 9 to 18 kilograms, covered in a black veil. The cross-bearer, as the main person in the procession, chooses his own accompaniment who wear brotherhood tunics. He is surrounded by his accompaniment, carriers of large candelabra, choral singers who sing the archaic Lamentation of the Virgin Mary, an octosyllable Passion text that dates back to the 15th century, and other singers. The leader of the procession, or "batiĹĄtrada" ensures everything goes as planned. They are joined by the faithful from all parts of the island together with their guests who, with rosaries and candles in hand, humbly follow the crosses all night long and tour the churches decorated with flowers. ď ś

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