Campania is a region where religious feeling and folklore come together to unmistakably unite. And it is precisely during major religious events such as Holy Week that this dual soul comes to the fore, with its many fervent manifestations. We have decided, therefore, to prepare for you an itinerary with the most important and significant Easter celebrations in Campania Felix.
The White Procession and the Black Procession in Sorrento
Among the many celebrations of Holy Week in the province of Naples, those taking place on the Sorrento peninsula are of great emotional impact. The most famous are the Processione Bianca (White Procession) and the Processione Nera (Black Procession) of Sorrento. Their names derive from the colours of the robes of the members of the two confraternities that organise the sacred processions. The Processione Bianca (White Procession) takes place on the evening of Holy Thursday and represents the incessant and painful procession of the Virgin Mary in her desperate search for her Son. Hence the choice of white, the symbol of the Virgin's purity.
The Black Procession, on the other hand, takes place on the night of Good Friday, to recall the painful and mournful events of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The path of the solemn procession is accompanied by a funeral march played by more than two hundred musicians, and is characterised by the presence of the most significant symbols of the Passion, torches and sacred signs.
The Procession of the Crosses and Paputi of Sarno
In the province of Salerno, on the other hand, one of the most interesting ceremonies is the one that takes place in Sarno, in the ancient medieval village of Terravecchia. We are referring to the Procession of the Crosses and the Paputi, a tradition dating back to the 12th century. On the morning of Good Friday, a large number of penitents dressed in white hoods, representing the nine confraternities of the village, begin a penitential procession carrying wooden crosses on their shoulders. In fact, the word Paputo has its origins in the Latin Pappus, which means old man. In practice, the Paputi represent the old sinful souls who, by expiating their sins, are reborn to new life, just like Jesus with his Resurrection. Among the most uncompromising are the brethren of St Matthew, who walk about dressed in an all-red tunic, a symbol of the blood shed by Christ to redeem mankind.
Holy Week in Frigento
In the province of Avellino, Holy Week in Frigento is of great interest. On Holy Thursday, for example, a procession is organised to the carefully reconstructed Sepulchre of Christ. The solemn procession is attended by the town's faithful, but also by the so-called Incappucciati (hooded men), the most orthodox penitents, once united in three confraternities. Frigento's Easter celebrations continue with the Good Friday Procession, a ceremony that recalls the tragic moment of Jesus' ascent to Calvary. The protagonists of the event are a large number of Misteri (Mysteries), nineteenth-century cartapest statues covered in cloth that represent the salient moments of the Passion. The Mysteries of Frigento are kept during Lent in the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Cielo to be worshipped by the faithful and during the Good Friday procession they are placed at the entrance to the town's most important buildings, in memory of an ancient tradition of Spanish origin.
The Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper in Reino
In the province of Benevento, one of the most significant Easter rites is the one held in Reino, an ancient medieval village. Here, every Holy Thursday, a suggestive representation of the Last Supper takes place. The sacred drama begins in the Church of the SS. Annunziata, where the classic Washing of the Feet and the distribution of blessed loaves of bread to participants take place. The participants solemnly walk in procession to the Cenacolo, which is prepared every year by a family from the village, which takes care of decorating it with old cloths, gold and blankets. After eating the sacred meal of bread, wine and water, the guests return to the Church of the Annunziata to attend the wake with the parish priest and the rest of the faithful.
The next day, the ceremony continues with the poignant Good Friday procession, accompanied by the sound of a unique musical instrument, the Troccola, instead of the bells, which, according to ancient tradition, are forbidden during Easter week.
The Office of Darkness and the Good Friday Procession in Sessa Aurunca
In the province of Caserta, the celebration of Holy Week in Sessa Aurunca is very suggestive and exciting. During the first three days of the week, the town's congregations gather in procession to adore the Blessed Sacrament, which is kept in the Romanesque cathedral. On Wednesday, however, in the church of the Friars Minor in San Giovanni a Villa, the Ufficio delle Tenebre (Office of Darkness), also known as the Terremoto (Earthquake), takes place. During the ceremony, the 15 candles on the altar are gradually extinguished with each liturgical chant. Only the last one remains lit and is hidden behind the altar to leave all the faithful in the dark, who, overcome with despair, shout loudly to simulate the roar of the earthquake that shook the earth after Jesus' death. When the last candle is returned to the altar, the mass of the faithful finally quietens down. Christ is risen and the divine light can finally shine again!
The Good Friday procession is also very moving, with many women dressed in mourning walking barefoot to the sound of poignant funeral marches.