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Trapani and Its Mysteries

Trapani, Church of the Anime Sante del Purgatorio, The Mysteries - Photo by Daniele Colombo-flickr.jpgTrapani and Its Mysteries

Sicily participates in Easter festivities with rites that derive from local customs and strongly-rooted traditions. 
Pilgrimages and processions parade through the Sicilian city’s streets, with an enormous following by the people, excited to witness up close the holy portrayals. 
Particularly special are the rites dating back to the time of Spanish domination; for instance, the Procession of the Mysteries in Trapani is the longest religious display in Italy (lasting 24 hours) and among the oldest (repeated year after year for 400 years). 

The “Mysteries” are 20 artistic representations of the Passion and Death of Christ: 18 statue groups, as well as two simulacrums of Mary, who weeps over the body of Christ. 
The Mysteries proceed through much of the City of Trapani, putting on a show of lights, sounds, colors and emotions. 
The statues of the Mysteries stand on a wooden base (vara), with fixtures attaching them to the parade floats or carts, so that they gently bob and sway during the procession. The vara is supported by a sort of wooden tripod covered with black cloth (manta). 
The statue groups are embellished with precious silver ornamentation and floral decor, and are illuminated in such a way as to exhibit certain facial expressions and movements of sadness and suffering. 

Each group, then, is carried on the shoulders of ten men (the massari) that move to the music of the band leading the procession, with a particular step called the annaccata
The Mysteries are protected in the Baroque Church of Anime Sante del Purgatorio, where the procession begins at 2 PM on Good Friday. The long cortege, after the parade and all-night festivities, concludes with a return to the church at 2 PM on Black Saturday.