Holy Week in Palencia
Palencia is home to four of the oldest penitential
fraternities of the Vieja Castilla (old Castile) from the Concilio
de Trento (Council of Trent). For this reason and for the vitality
of their Semana Santa (Holy Week), the festival has been declared
of touristic interest in Castilla y León.
Some fraternities have survived through several centuries. The oldest ones are the "cofradías" (fraternities) of Santo Sepulcro (originally of San Francisco from the 15th century), la Vera Cruz (16th century), Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, Nuestra Madre la Virgen de la Amargura (1604) and Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (1657). We ought to bear in mind that this is equal to 500 years of history and presence in Castilla y León, and more specifically in the city of Palencia.
The oldest floats are those of the Virgen de los cuchillos or Quinta Angustia, of the fraternity of el Sepulcro, registered floats made by the apparently Palencian artist if the 17th century, Antonio de Amusco. The float of El Cristo atado a la columna (Christ tied to the column) is from the middle of the 17th century and belongs to the fraternity of la Vera Cruz. Another is La Oración del Huerto (the prayer in the garden), a figure dressed according to the fashions of the 18th century, and with natural hair.
The float of La lanzada de Longinos is a copy of another float with an identical history that took part in the processions of Valladolid in the first third of the 17th century. That float however, lost its most significant elements. Another of Palencia's oldest processional floats is the representation of the Virgin Mary, La Soledad, from the 18th century.
The float procession and that of el Santo Entierro (the holy burial) are worth seeing, and if it is possible the tourist should come a day early to Palencia to witness the procession of la Oración del Huerto.
Another event of popular tradition is La llamada de Hermanos (the brothers' call), which summons the fraternity members by blowing the cornet and banging on their doors with sticks during the nights of the Semana de Pasión, to keep in with the spirit of the religious celebration.
Other popular elements of Palencia's Holy Week are the Saludo de los Estandartes (the greeting of the standards) of the different fraternities, El Prendimiento (the Arrest), and la Procesión del Rompimiento del velo (the procession of the tearing of the veil), which marks the end of Holy Week and announces the resurrection of Christ, among explosions of firecrackers, the tolling of bells, and the giving out or bread rolls, almond and lemonade.
Source: Web server of Instituto de Turismo de España, TURESPAÑA.