The cast of characters in Holy Week processions

Mavic Conde
The cast of characters in Holy Week processions
A look at the elements of a Holy Week procession, and some of the beautiful figures and statues that play a role in helping Catholics reflect on the Passion of Christ

Crowds line up along the town’s thoroughfare. Some are dressed casually, others wear dresses with either a candle or a fan in their hands. There are a few women clothed in black silk and barefoot, women dressed in white with a blue belt.

On the roads, vehicles are rerouted if not blocked to give way to the anticipated event. Yet despite this ongoing business, the surroundings remain quiet. There are no kids shouting or giggling in the park, no loud thumping of drums or sound from speakers nor honking from motor vehicles can be heard.

Such is the scene that would unfold before a Holy Week procession – a yearly religious observance for the Catholic faithful to commemorate the passion of Christ and the virtues that other personas showed during this time in Jesus’ life. 

The Solitude of the Cross

Jesus dies on the cross

A website dedicated to devotional writing writes, The cross of Christ, like the light of God, stands in its own awesome and sublime solitude.”

What this seeks to emulate is to offer to God our sufferings and services. That we may labor silently with grace. That even if we may eat our meal alone we won’t cease, succumb, or loathe because we know God is with us.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, the humble servant of God

The death of Jesus was one of the sources of Mary’s suffering in solitude. This sorrow was not anguish about herself and her pain but about Jesus.

This, like all her other virtues, Mary kept veiled also. She did not complain or recriminate; instead, she accepted them all. That is how Mary embraced the will of God which was her life.

This adherence to God’s will – which Mary practiced after Jesus’ Ascension as well as during His crucifixion, along with her other nameless sufferings – is of note.

Apostles of Jesus

St Peter

Saint Jude

In a traditional procession, St. Peter is constant in the line-up of statues for being the pillar of the church. Judas Iscariot is also prominent for his betrayal of Jesus.   

Other apostles of Jesus may be included in the procession as more local residents own images of saints. Every additional statue comes with the approval of the church.

Sta. Juana de Cuza

Sta Martha

Sta Veronica

Three Marys carry three appointments during the burial of Christ.

Mary Magdalene anoints the remains of Jesus with a perfume.

Mary Magdalene

Maria Cleofas or Jacobe sweeps the sepulcher with a broom.

Maria Cleopas or Jacobe

Maria Salome brings the incense.

Sta Maria Salome

Stations of the Cross

This allows for contemplation of the sufferings and death of Jesus which teaches several lessons about Christian life. These include trusting God in every situation, examining our actions and faith, respecting positions and authority, having the courage to proclaim the Lord as God, spiritual healing and, ultimately, accepting the gift of salvation.

Here are a few pictures: 

Jesus takes up His cross

Jesus falls down while carrying the cross

Jesus on the Mount of Olives

Mary, Mother of Jesus

Maria Dolorosa

Mater Dolorosa is one of the names attributed to Mary, mother of Jesus, representing her sorrow. Traditionally, it is the last image in the procession, following the Santo Entierro on Good Friday procession.

Statues for Friday procession

The Good Friday procession is identical with the Holy Thursday procession except with the addition of Pieta and Santo Entierro (Jesus Internment).

Pieta or the suffering of Mary



Santo Entierro

Holy Week processions are among the oldest religious traditions in the Philippines. Each year it attracts thousands of devotees in the streets, along with tourists who come to observe, if not experience it. The larger-than-life images on decorated carozzas are paraded on the streets during Holy Wednesday and Good Friday.

Will you be joining in a procession this year? What’s it like in your part of the country? Let us know in the comments below. –

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