Maundy Thursday in Coripe

As the Director of Religious Education was driving me to Coripe, a small village outside of Moron, to celebrate the Mass In Cena Domini, we were listening to CanalSur to what was going on in Seville. It had been raining all day long. I had been sick all day long with a stomach bug. The center of Seville and all the towns of Andalucia, which were usually thronged with people, were totally lifeless and empty. Everyone was in their houses watching to see what would be happening. The whole region was on edge, because they usually spend all night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in the madrugada, processions until dawn.

The most important of these processions was that of Cristo Gran Poder and the Macarena. Out of all of the floats and processions in Seville, this is by far the largest, longest, and most beautiful procession. The statue of the Macarena, of Our Lady of Hope, is the most beautiful image of Our Lady in the world, according to Sevillians, and she is covered by a velvet green cope whose gold embroidery was so rich you could hardly see the cloth underneath. The procession also has Roman soldiers in their distinctive battle dress uniform with enormous white plumes and the best bands and singers.

Everyone wants to see the Macarena, and so everyone was glued to radio, TV and internet. Would she leave the Basilica at 1am as she has for almost 500 years?

But in the meantime, there was another Seville tradition to be followed: the Visit to the Seven Repositories for Maundy Thursday. The repositories are called monumentos, and are decorated by the Confraternities. Not surprisingly, everyone competes to decorate the most beautiful repository. By the far the most beautiful one I saw was in Moron itself. They had constructed a terrace of wood planks, hidden by red brocade, flowers and candles in silver vases. The tabernacle was surrounded by more red brocade and silver and gold.

Don Carlos, a young priest from a neighboring parish, joined us on our visit, as we went from church to convent to monastery to chapel to say a brief prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament and greet other worshippers who were making their visits as well. But of course, both Don Carlos and Don Pedro had every priest’s nightmare to do tomorrow: funerals. Don Carlos has a Procession from 6am to noon, a funeral at noon, the Liturgy of the Passion at three, and then another Procession at 6pm in his parish. So the priests were all looking forward to some sleep, but we were all decided to tough it out in case the Macarena was going to process in Seville.

Having visited Jesus in the repositories, we made our way back home, anxiously awaiting word if the Macarena would process. At 1am, the gave the word. No. Driving sheets of rain would make that impossible. But on the internet, we could see what was going on inside the Basilica. All of that preparation, the money spent, the hopes dashed, was way too much for many to handle. To see some of the costeleros kneeling the midst of the throngs, weeping like little children, to hear anguished cries from the brothers of the Confraternity, was not melodrama. It was profoundly moving. This year, devotion to Christ and Our Lady would have to take the form of obedience and mortification, not obeying the orders of the Precentor and extreme bodily penance, but the obedience to weather itself and an internal mortification of the will.

So I had an early night for once this week!