Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cuaresma: Holy Wednesday

The Kawit Citizens carrying the image of the suffering Christ on their shoulders
To be truly a Christian one must follow Christ's example, even up to the cross

Barefoot and braving the harshness of the summer sun, the doors opened to the procession of a flock of people who willingly went on to proceed walking miles around their city to commemorate and reflect on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. In a tradition as ancient and old as the church of their parish, branching deep into its hispanic roots, they walked on the hot soil with their bare feet.

Lines of the faithful
In Kawit, Cavite... a long held tradition of making the Via Crucis, a walk that stops on different respective stations to meditate on the life of Jesus, after almost decades of it being done barefoot. The faithful carried the images of Jesus the Nazarene and the Sorrowful Mother, Mary, clad in black mourning clothes and affectionately called "Mater Dolorosa", the image of a woman who weeps for the fate of His son.

The Via Crucis, also known as Stations of the Cross, is a practice particularly known in the Catholic world. Commonly done during the season of Lent, the stations usually have artworks such as paintings and sculptures depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ. It is recognized in some Christian churches and was usually done inside the church or chapel.

Based on the pilgrimages to Jerusalem and a desire that it might be possible to be done locally in parishes around the world, 15th century Franciscans built small shrines that duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land and in 1686 Pope Innocent XI granted the Franciscan Order the right to erect these outdoor shrines. 

In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.


Different from the usual forms of the praying and meditation on the stations of the cross in most parts of the world, the Philippines has the stations still outside and scattered on their parish, where the faithful walk on a seeming procession. Kawit, however, has its Via Crucis done barefoot, in remembrance of the humility and compassion of our Lord.

Each station of the Cross is depicted by a marvelous painting set outside the church and is housed on different residences of both known and not-so-prominent citizens of the city. Spanning from a few meters to a several miles from the church and back, the participants have to endure mud and the hot asphalt as they go along, a form of sacrifice, as they say, and an expression of their deep Catholic faith.

CUARESMA is a series of lectures and posts discussing the traditions and superstitions surrounding the Filipino Holy Week. There are no copyrights on the materials used and/or the pictures, feel free to use them without the prior notice from the author provided that they will not be used for any merchandise. All pictures are taken at St. Mary Magdalene Parish, Kawit, Cavite on the 27th of March, 2013.