Friday, April 10, 2009

Holiday: Good Friday Procession

The St. Francis of Assisi Band mourned its way down College Street in Toronto's Little Italy to start the Good Friday Procession on 10-April-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - The word "parade" connotes a celebration of some sort, so it is not a coincidence that the "Good Friday Procession" in Toronto is a "procession," not a "parade," though from a helicopter it would probably be hard to tell the difference. Running through the heart of Little Italy, the procession tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on one of the holiest days, Good Friday, in the calendar of the religions that consider him their savior.

While the elements of a typical parade are present, with bands, floats, and groups marching in formation, the tone is completely different from a parade. The St. Francis of Assisi Band, starting the content of the parade behind the flags, marched in a mournful manner, playing dirge-like music to establish the event as one of religious reverence rather than celebration.

Soldiers taunted Jesus on his march to see Pilate as portrayed in the Good Friday Procession in Toronto, Ontario on 10-April-2009

All parades have their traditional elements that one comes to expect each year, and the Good Friday Procession has its traditions as well. One is the women of St. Roch's Church in Weston, who sing and chant their way down the route in Italian and Latin. Short quotes from the New Testament of the Bible are carried between segments of the procession to tell the story of Jesus' crucifixion. The tradition that gets the most attention, though, is the portrayal of Jesus being abused by Roman soldiers as they take him to be judged by Pontius Pilate and King Herod. A bloodied Jesus appears to be beaten and otherwise harassed as he walks, causing cringes and even screams from the crowds along the sidewalks as he passes.

Followers of Jesus followed him to the crucifixion as portrayed during the Good Friday Procession in Toronto, Ontario on 10-April-2009

Many of the groups marching in the Good Friday Procession are churches and social clubs from the area, so more than in Toronto's parades, there was a constant stream of people ducking out of formation to say hello to friends along the parade route. Those costumed in Biblical-era costumes, though, were not observed to break character as they passed my location along College Avenue.

Crowds poured into College Street in Little Italy following the Good Friday Procession in Toronto, Ontario on 10-April-2009

More complete photo coverage of the Good Friday Procession will appear in a future update to my photo site.

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