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Holy Week Processions in Mendrisio

Holy Week Processions of Mendrisio - Good Friday

The procession of Good Friday, also known as Entierro (from the Spanish word "entierro", burial) is austere and solemn and is more imbued with spirituality. Over 700 people in costume take part, divided into members of two confraternities and religious associations.

Compared to the Funziun di Giüdee, the Good Friday procession, which was also called Entierro, meaning funeral, burial of the Christ) in the past, is probably older and certainly more solemn.

The moment of remembrance was underlined by the fact that a day of mourning was proclaimed every year on Good Friday. In the region, the term Entierro became part of the common lexicon following the Spanish domination of Lombardy between the 16th and 17th centuries, in the historical period immediately following the Council of Trent, which marked the Catholic Church's reaction to the protest generated by the Protestant Reformation.

In what was not yet Canton Ticino at the time, the propaganda of Catholic orthodoxy, meaning the integral acceptance of Catholic doctrine, and the consolidation of tradition among the faithful were preached with particular rigour. The monastic orders played a key role in this: in Mendrisio, this task was assigned to the Order of the Servants of Mary.

The Order of the Servants of Mary, whose monks wear a mournful black habit reminiscent of the Servites' particular devotion to the cult of the Virgin of Sorrows, was founded in Florence in 1233 by some citizens of noble origins called the Seven Holy Founders. The Order settled in the town of Mendrisio at the request of the Sanseverino family in 1451, settling initially in the Church of San Sisinio alla Torre and later at the Ospizio di San Giovanni (formerly the convent of the Umiliati) and the adjoining Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Only on two occasions did the monks move away from Mendrisio: the first, for a short period during which they moved to Capolago (from 1474 to 1477) and the second in 1641, when the murder of the prior emeritus Alfonso della Torre by another monk within the walls of the monastery caused the order to be expelled from Mendrisio. The Servants of Mary were readmitted only three years later, in 1644, on condition that they assist the sick and the poor (by restoring the 'hospice' inherited from the Order of the Umiliati), opened a primary school and provide religious and pastoral commitment to the community. It was precisely this last task that yielded the most appreciable results.

In the counter reformist atmosphere of the latter half of 1600, the Servants introduced the worship of the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows to Mendrisio and the practice of the Septenary. They organised the Good Friday procession, underscoring rigorous observance of the official stands of the Catholic Church in terms of themes, contents and performance of the same.

Under the mellow light of the “Trasparenti” and of the lanterns, the nighttime procession in memory of a past in which the funeral services were all held at dusk, represents the peak of the Holy Week in Mendrisio.