Processions and Crucifixions: Holy Week Around the World

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An actor plays Jesus Christ carrying his cross during a Passion play in Imotski, Croatia. Antonio Bronic/Reuters

The week before Easter is known as Holy Week, and is celebrated by Christians around the world to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In many Catholic countries, Holy Week is the most important time of the year, even more than Christmas. In some parts of the world, Catholics stage Passion plays, re-enacting bible stories and telling of Christ's last few hours on Earth before his crucifixion.

Some devotees in the Philippines go a bit further, taking on element of Christ's suffering. Penitents carry heavy crosses and bare their backs for flagellation—getting beaten until they bleed by men portraying Roman soldiers. On Good Friday, some actually get crucified using real nails in an attempt to get closer to God by experiencing some of Christ’s suffering.

In cities across Spain there are hundreds of processions featuring hooded figures during Holy Week. Each city has several religious brotherhoods, often dating back to the Middle Ages. The colors of the hooded robes, known as capirotes, signify membership of different brotherhoods.

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

 

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Performers recreate the flogging of Jesus Christ, during a street-theater Passion Play in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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An actor portraying Jesus Christ takes part in the interactive street-theater Passion play "Il-Mixja" (The Way) in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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Actors perform as Roman soldiers in the Passion Play in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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Performers recreate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, during a street-theater Passion play in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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An actor portraying Mary cries as Christ's crucifixion is re-enacted in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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An actor portraying Jesus Christ cries out: "My Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?" during a street-theater Passion Play in Attard, Malta. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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A man dressed as a demon prepares to whip people during a ceremony known as Los Talciguines in Texistepeque, El Salvador. Jose Cabezas/Reuters
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A man dressed as a demon whips a bystander in Texistepeque, El Salvador. People flock to the town from all around country to get whipped to repent for sins committed during the year. Jose Cabezas/Reuters
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A woman is chased by people portraying demons in Texistepeque, El Salvador. Marcin Recinos/AFP
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Participants stand next to an effigy of Jesus as they wait for the beginning of the annual Palm Sunday procession in Heiligenstadt, Germany. The Unesco-listed procession includes figures that represent six stages of Christ's suffering, from the Last Supper to his crucifixion. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
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An effigy of Jesus is crucified during the annual Palm Sunday procession in Heiligenstadt, Germany. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images