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Holy Week Around the World: The most purple of penitents

Guillaume Pinon for NurPhoto

Photo of the Day, April 12, 2017


MALAGA, Spain: Penitents during procession for Holy Wednesday in Malaga Spain. It is the fourth day of Holy week. Seven processions go out and around the city of Malaga.

In almost every city of Spain you are likely to see a procession during Holy Week (Semana Santa) that features hooded or masked penitents. Since the Middle Ages, members of various religious guilds and brotherhoods have processed through the city, sometimes while self-flagellating (whipping themselves with knotted cords) in a public though anonymous display of contrition and penance. Hence their popular name, “The Penitents.”

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary’s color,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolor
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s color,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.

The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme.
The time.
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jeweled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke
no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

— T.S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

Photo by Guillaume Pinon for NurPhoto

See more photos here.

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