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Maritime Holy Week in Valencia, the fervor of a people
Publishing date 23/03/2015
The maritime districts of Valencia welcome with true devotion the Maritime Holy Week, one of the most deeply rooted religious celebrations in the city of Valencia. Thirty fraternities participate in a festival, the origins of which date back to the fifteenth century. For the Easter holidays, come to Valencia and enjoy the tradition, the sea and the sun. It is an incredible contrast!
Easter in Valencia is the prelude of good weather and it seems to shake hands with the spring. During this time of the year, traditions and rituals rooting back in the origins of history are commemorated. Holy Week in Valencia is known as "Marinera" (Spanish word for "maritime") due to an intimate relationship with the sea, an ingrained religious and popular tradition that takes place in the maritime district neighborhoods of the capital: Graó and Cabanyal-Canyamelar, where fishermen show publicly their faith.
At the dawn of the fifteenth century, the organization Concordia dels disciplinatswas created. Vincent Ferrer, O.P. was one of the priors of this Dominican order. It is at this time when the celebrations of Holy Week started in the three parishes in the Maritime Districts: Our Lady of the Angels of Cabanyal (Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles del Cabanyal), Our Lady of the Rosary of Canyamelar (Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Canyamelar) and Santa Maria del Grao.
In the late eighteenth century, this latter parish created the Concordia de Santa María del Grau, a fraternity of fraternities which included the different organizations. The fraternities were: the "Sayones", who worshiped the Holy Sepulchre and represented the Christian knights who went to the Holy Land to reconquer the Holy Places. The Penitents, also called "Vestas" in reference to the traditional hood they bear, who worshiped the Holy Christ. And finally, the "Granaderos", which appear after the French occupation in the early nineteenth century and symbolize the soldiers of the French army who, dressed in their formal uniform, give escort to the image of the Virgin of Solitude (Virgen de la Soledad) in the Procession of the Holy Burial.
In the twentieth century, the Maritime Holy Week changed and in 1924, the Brotherhood of the Holy Face was created, in the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, by a group of young people. This event marked the beginning of a new stage.
In 1927, that group introduced a new element of worship that breaks the uniformity of the imagery. The Nazarene, the Crucified Christ and the Dolorosa are joined by a sculptural group of five figures symbolizing the passage of Veronica, a work by artist Mariano Benlliure, now the first image in the procession of the Maritime Holy Week. The wardrobe is also changed, with the use of richer fabrics such as satin, silk or velvet. A third new element is the change in the conception of the Maritime Holy Week composed by Sayones, Vestas and Granaderos, to make way for the emergence of new brotherhoods.
The Maritime Holy Week continued its upward trend during the decades of the fifties and sixties, with its three parishes, though again suffered a decline in the seventies, a time in which, however, the processions by the brotherhoods of Santa María del Mar reappeared. Already in 1991, we would like to highlight the creation of the Brotherhood of Jesus of Medinaceli and the reappearance of the Brotherhood of the Crucifixion of the Lord.
The festivities begin on Palm Sunday; follow on Holy Thursday and Friday, days commemorating the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and end on Easter Sunday. This is the day when a lavish parade that involves all fraternities and brotherhoods is celebrated through the main maritime streets, accompanied by a fundamental element in the city of Valencia: music. All fraternities, organizations and brotherhoods travel the route of the Holy Entombment, this time to announce that Jesus Christ has resurrected, with an explosion of color and joy. Faces are now unveiled, the black of the costumes has changed to white and biblical figures throw flowers to the public.
But everything has an end and so does Easter Week. From Monday on, the images go back to their churches, accompanied by members of the brotherhoods and a faithful audience. The places that housed them are now empty, one can feel the absence of the image and the streets are also empty now. Again, we must wait a year, no choice but to do it to live a new Maritime Holy Week in Valencia.