Holy Week processions in Mendrisio
Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The Holy Week processions take place in the historic town of Mendrisio on the evenings of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, attracting over 10,000 spectators. On these occasions, the city’s lights are turned off and the streets are lit by the glow of ‘transparencies’: translucent paintings mounted on wooden frames and illuminated from within, made using a specific painting technique developed since the late 18th century. Nowadays, the 260 transparencies depict biblical scenes and symbols. The Thursday procession is devoted to staging the Passion and the Stations of the Cross and involves around 270 extras. The sounds of trumpets and drums set the pace and fill the streets with a contemplative atmosphere. The Good Friday procession is more austere: hundreds of children and adults march along carrying over 500 ceremonial objects, including 320 lanterns representing symbols of the Passion of Christ. The choreography and scenography of the processions foster a contemplative atmosphere, and the transparencies promote local craftsmanship. Hundreds of men and women volunteer to organize the practice, and a significant portion of the population supports it by attending the processions. The Fondazione Processioni Storiche di Mendrisio is committed to preparing and organizing the Processions with wide community participation and ensures the transmission of related knowledge by its members and beyond.