Something like normal | Commonwealth Magazine


Los Varones trace their beginning to the Franciscan friars who arrived in San Gregorio at the end of the 16th century. “They were really the first Varonessaid Carrasco, who collected the group’s oral history. “Probably in the early 17th century they started using young men from the pueblo.” Members of Los Varones must devote at least one year to the service of the Church. In addition to the work they do during Holy Week, they are required to clean the church, tend to various religious statues, help those in need, and attend masses and Bible studies. This year, there was one more requirement. “Everyone had to be fully vaccinated,” Castro said. “We also use masks and we have antibacterial gel.”

In a normal year, thousands of people attend Holy Week events in the pueblo, but this year changes have been made to limit crowds. “Things start earlier,” Carrasco said. “We don’t tell people what time things start.” Those wishing to attend had to determine the program themselves.

On Wednesday of Holy Week, Los Varones and community members gathered in the church to decorate the altars with fruit. “The fruit represents the tears of the Virgin,” said Javier Márquez Juárez, who has written extensively about pueblo traditions. He said the decoration of altars with fruit is unique to San Gregorio. In recent years, people have been coming in and out of the church to look at the decoration of the altars. This year, the doors of the church were closed.

On Maundy Thursday evening, people gathered in the cemetery for the start of the first great procession of the week. The courtyard has three entrances, but this year only one was open. Before entering, people were sprayed with disinfectant and given a dollop of disinfectant gel. A young woman could be heard at the entrance shouting at a man: “Señorplease wear your mask.

At the start of the evening’s events, Los Varones carried statues of Mary and Christ out of the church, then stood silently beside them in the cemetery. A re-enactment of the Last Supper usually takes place on Maundy Thursday, but this year it has been cancelled. So it was on to the following event: Los Varones carried the statues through the streets of the pueblo, accompanied by people chanting hypnotically mournfully alabados. A few residents followed the procession or stood aside to watch it pass. In a pre-pandemic year, there would have been crowds. Not this year. The whole procession lasted about three hours. Both Los Varones and the singers wore masks, like most of those who followed them.

On Good Friday morning, sculpted figures of the two thieves and Christ were placed on crucifixes. At one o’clock in the afternoon, there was a brief liturgy, during which the priest reminded people to take precautions. Then came the descending: the two oldest Varones climbed ladders to free and lower the figure of Christ from the cross. That alone took almost two hours.

The longest and most arduous procession of the week took place that evening. The figure of Christ was placed in a glass coffin covered with rose petals. six bare feet Varones lifted the four hundred pound coffin, placed it on their shoulders and carried it through the pueblo. This time, efforts to limit the crowds were less successful: thousands of people followed the procession, and thousands more lined the streets.


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