CARDENAS, Mexico – Between prayers for the COVID-19 pandemic and femicides in Mexico to end, 10-year-old Rodrigo Vidal is playing Jesus Christ in a Way of the Cross performance staged exclusively by children in the southeastern Mexican town of Cardenas.
“I do it so that the kids follow this example and mainly for God to get us out of this COVID-19 pandemic. (Jesus’s) passion, death and resurrection mean a lot to me. What he suffered makes me sad. I’d ask him to put a stop to those who are killing women, those who are raping and to femicide,” Vidal said.
Along with some 20 other kids and teenagers, and accompanied by their parents, the boy participated in the recreation of the experience of Jesus from his arrest in Jerusalem to his crucifixion.
Rodrigo is in sixth grade and was selected to play Christ because he and his parents are living examples for the local Catholic community. He’s a boy with a lot of verbal ability and is passionate about God’s work, his colleagues said.
“We know that, thank God, there are already vaccines, but we’re continuing to pray so that we can have a normal life and the kids can return to school, for the stress at home to end and to take advantage of the opportunity to tell people that Christ lives,” Virgilio Martinez, the organizer of the Way of the Cross performance said.
The activity was conceived at the insistence of the kids and because their parish remains partially locked down for larger religious activities to limit coronavirus infections.
“They are very active and always participate, but because of the pandemic many Catholic events were cancelled. And, seeing that we couldn’t have (the traditional) Way of the Cross, the kids decided to do something new and came up with this idea,” Martinez added.
The grandparents and an uncle of the little “Christ” came down with COVID and are recovering, while his parents have remained healthy so far during the pandemic, which in Mexico has killed more than 202,000 and infected some 2.22 million.
Rodrigo’s father works with aluminum and his mother is a housewife.
It’s a humble family that takes great pains over the boy’s education.
“Seeing the parents’ responsible way regarding the boy’s education, we opted to invite him to participate so that everyone grew spiritually. From the start, we looked to him to play the role of Jesus because he’s very committed and passionate about religious things,” Martinez said.
The last stop on the Way of the Cross was recreated in a vacant lot infested by ants that during the performance attacked the players, and one of them playing one of the thieves crucified with Jesus had to come down from his cross due to the implacable insects.
To comply with health protocols, the organizers used various open-air locations in the town of Cardenas, some 47 kilometers (29 miles) from Villahermosa, the Tabasco state capital.
The work of preparing the kids was tough and took two weeks during which they worked on the performance, which depicts biblical events from Jesus’ arrest, to the Last Supper, the washing of the feet, the Virgin’s nightmare, the march of silence, the adoration on the cross and the crucifixion.
Although Tabasco is still under an orange alert (high risk) and churches are only partially open at 30 percent of capacity, all crowd-related activities have been banned, including processions.
Thus, the Way of the Cross performance will be broadcast virtually on Good Friday via Facebook, merging tradition with modernity and with the new pandemic circumstances.
With 97.8 million believers, Mexico is the world’s second-largest Catholic country, after Brazil.