GOIAS, Brazil – Some 50,000 Christian faithful participated in the nearly three-century-old Procession of the Torches on Thursday in commemoration of the last days of Jesus Christ.
Starting in the wee hours, parishioners began gathering on the streets of Goias – in the like-named central Brazilian state – to witness the procession.
Despite being the nation with the largest number of Catholics in the world, Brazil’s Holy Week celebrations pale in comparison to the fervor displayed in neighboring countries, in which religious activities take place from Palm Sunday through Easter.
However, the Holy Week tradition endures here in Goias, where parishioners celebrated the procession’s 273rd year.
Demand to be allowed to portray one of the 40 “farricocos” – men clad in dark robes and hoods representing Roman soldiers sent to arrest Christ – is always high, so candidates seek to win the favor of local Our Lady of the Good Death church authorities throughout the year to be considered for the role.
The procession got under way with the 40 torch-bearing men departing barefoot from the Museum of the Sacred Art of the Good Death and slowly traversing the city – a World Heritage site – to the sound of beating drums.
After two hours, the procession arrived at the St. Francis of Paola church, representing the Mount of Olives where, to the sound of a bugle, the chief farricoco – the only one wearing a white robe – appeared holding a standard bearing the image of Jesus, an act symbolizing his capture.
This time, ahead of the liturgical act closing this year’s procession, attendees observed a minute of silence in honor of Marielle Franco, the Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman murdered earlier this month.