Holy Week in Assisi
Easter celebrations are held in almost every town in Umbria, but it’s certainly Assisi, thanks to its spiritual past, medieval town atmosphere, and incredible performances, that attracts the most modern day pilgrims and travellers to celebrate the sacred holiday.
Celebrations begin on Palm Sunday with the blessing of the olive branches which takes place in all the basilicas and churches. In the Cathedral of San Rufino, the high Mass of the Chrism is celebrated in which the holy oils are blessed, while on Holy Thursday, the 14th century Scavigliazione ceremony is held featuring Christ’s Deposition from the Cross.
Throughout Holy Thursday, Christ's Last Supper is remembered at several churches in memory of the pain suffered by Jesus Christ in many places. At the Church of San Rocco, traditional adoration of Jesus takes place in the tabernacle accompanied by chants from the Polyphonic Choir.
Via Crucis in Umbria
On Good Friday, the most intense and moving day of the whole week, the martyrdom of Christ is relived in many Umbrian towns during the Via Crucis, a re-enactment of the passion of Jesus. Celebrations are held in Todi, Gualdo Tadino, Montefalco, Terni, Perugia, Gubbio, Sigillo, Fossato di Vico, Cascia and Norcia.
In Assisi a traditional procession takes the body of Christ from the San Rufino Cathedral to the Basilica of San Francesco, stopping briefly in the cloistered monasteries along the way. In the evening there is an impressive parade which dates back to medieval times along the streets of the historic center which are lit exclusively by torchlight.
During the Easter Saturday Vigil, in expectation of the High Easter Mass, the paschal candle is lit which will then be put out on Ascension day. The morning of Easter Monday starts with a depiction of the angel who comforted a woman at Jesus’ tomb at dawn, while evening vespers bring Holy Week to a close.