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There is nothing as suggestive and charming as the Holy Easter Week in Sicily. And if you celebrate this week on the body of an active volcano it becomes a unique experience. Do you want an idea for your next spring holiday? Come live Easter on Mt. Etna! Every single town, here, will show you its traditions. It would take a lifetime to know them all, but here is a choice of three events to consider. And possibily to live, too.

Biancavilla’s Cruciddi

On the western flank of Mt. Etna, on the evening of Good Thursday, the town of Biancavilla dresses up in a suggestion. Each church prepares the so-called “sepulchres” – altars adorned with symbols of the Passion of Christ. They are real pilgrimage destinations for the people and confraternities. Visitors to the “sepulchres” must wear a cross on their head and wear a towel, which is why they are called “the Cruciddi” – the small crosses.

In the silence and twilight of that evening, immediately after the Mass in Coena Domini, the town’s  historic centre is filled with small and large crosses. People walk around, marking paths that – despite everything – have very little macabre. They are, instead, very sacred and profound. At the end of the evening the “Mysteries” come out. They are scenic wagons which re-propose events of the Passion of Jesus and are carried in procession together with the “Torch” (a big candle) and the statue of Dead Christ.

The Procession at Dawn in Acireale

Easter on mt etna2The town of Acireale has lost, in centuries, many medieval traditions connected to Easter Week. Today there is only one confraternite dedicated to Most Holy Christ. These men – together with the men of the Union of the Ward of Holy Sepulchre, who wear a real crown of thorns – have the task to take the statue of Jesus from the church of St Peter and St Paul to St Saviour. The church of St Saviour is also called The Calvary. 

This is the church that – since the 17th century – hosts the representation of the Death on the Cross. The Good Friday procession still starts from here. But the most suggestive event is the other procession, the one taking place in the night between Good Thursday and Good Friday. No matter the weather or temperature outside, people will gather here at 4 am. They will follow the statue of Dead Christ as it climbs to the Calvary place, before dawn comes.

The Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows in Randazzo

Good Friday is a day of suggestive processions all over Sicily. The most impressive and spectacular ones usually occur in the west of the island. But also the Etnean towns can show the world their traditions related to the death of Christ. Randazzo – large medieval town on the northern side of the volcano – on the evening of Good Friday, experiences the Procession of the Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows).Easter on mt etna3

In the absolute silence of a composed crowd, the statues of Christ and his sad mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, sadly parade. Both lit by rays of artfully mounted candles, they move from the church of St Peter (in the Lombard district of San Martino) for a twisted tour of the historic centre. The tour ends, in the same church, around midnight.

The procession stops in front of certain points, signaled by the sound of a small bell. There,  the two statues receive the homage of the devoutees who sing – or shout – very suggestive prayers. The whole event is a truly moving experience that crosses a town with a Norman charm. A charm that becomes even more intense on this special night. (photos by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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