Holy Week in Salamanca
Salamanca has been named a City of the Heritage
of Humanity, and celebrates its Semana Santa (Holy Week) with
One of the oldest customs, and one which lasted through all the years of the Republic, is the celebration of Los Oficios (Holy Office) in the chapel of the old university. The liturgical and academic ceremony is held on Maundy Thursday, and considered by the university staff as a supplementary staff meeting. As los oficios was traditionally held in the morning, a typical breakfast of hot chocolate, cakes and sweet sponge was served to the worshippers, and although now the time of the ceremony has changed, the customary 'breakfast' is still served.
The taking down of the figure of Christ is a ceremony not to be missed by the Holy Week tourist. It is hung between two other crosses, in a setting of the cathedral's Patio Chico (small patio), with the tower of the cock and the garden of Melibea on either side. Salamanca's Holy Week has the advantage of its natural surroundings: the Plaza de la Universidad, the Casa de las Conchas, Clerecía, the two cathedrals, San Esteban, el Arrabal and the Roman Bridge.
Each procession through Salamanca passes through a piece of history, invoked by a house, a palace, a temple or a tower.
The fraternity of el Cristo del Amor y de la Paz (Christ of Love and Peace) forms a procession that takes an unusual route; starting with the climb towards the city from the suburbs of Lázaro, on the other side of the river Tormes, it passes along the river bank and across the Roman bridge, arrives at calle Tentenecio (with its tale of the miracle of San Juan de Sahagún when he tamed a mad bull), approaches the Plaza Mayor, and returns via the university quarter to the river bank. On the same day the Procesión del Cristo de la Agonía leaves from the Plaza de las Úrsulas, and at dawn on Friday there are the processions of el Santísimo Cristo de la Buena Muerte, Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Pasión, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and of la Virgen de la Esperanza, promoted by Salamancan writers and journalists.
Visitors to Salamanca ought also to see the reproduction of the Holy Shroud of Turin preserved by the Augustine Mothers in their convent, where it has been since 1665 due to the intercession of Queen Margarita of Austria, the wife of Felipe III.