ITALY: Settimana Santa in Sicily
The island of Sicily lies at the crossroads of the Mediterranean world; and successive waves of invasion and settlement since ancient times have shaped its complex historical record and rich cultural texture. In this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic society, Easter is a central focus of the shared culture, celebrated as much in the streets as in the churches of every town and village—a vivid embodiment of the etymology of religion as a binding together. Contemporary Sicily maintains vibrant regional and local traditions, and these are also manifest in the celebration of Easter. The images in this portfolio document the latest recreations of traditions that have continued for centuries, and which entail year-long planning and cooperation among many individuals and groups within the local community. These include the Easter week processions of groups of life size figures, made during the 17th and and 18th centuries, representing episodes from the Passion of Christ and carried by members of the religious confraternities in the towns of Trapani and Erice; and the Maundy Thursday dramatization of the Way of the Cross enacted by local citizens in the streets of Marsala—a kind of street theater that brings the Gospel story to life in the here and now.