At the turn of Holy Wednesday to Maundy Thursday, locals in Goiás Velho, a heritage town in Goiás state, were warned by the sound of a fanfare—the traditional Procession of the Torches (Procissão do Fogaréu) had begun at midnight. Town lights went out to give way to torches that lit a truly spectacular outdoor performance.
Forty farricocos, characters dressed in colorful robes and pointed hoods, representing Roman soldiers, gathered in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Good Death at the main square of the town. Followed by the crowd, they set out as if in a hunt for Jesus Christ.
Barefoot on the cobblestones, the farricocosmarched to the stairs of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which represents the place where the last supper was going on—but Jesus was no longer there.
The procession then headed toward the Church of Saint Francis of Paola, representing the Garden of Olives described in the Bible. There, Jesus was declared under arrest to the sound of a horn, as illustrated on a linen banner painted by artist Veiga Valle.
The Procession of the Torches has been held in Goiás Velho since 1745. For those who are there for the first time, like retired teacher Leila Faria de Souza from Goiânia, the festivity was a pleasant surprise. “I loved it. I was born in Minas Gerais and have lived in Goiás [state] for 37 years now, and I've always wanted to join. I'm glad I've made it this year,” she said in delight.
History professor José Otávio de Arruda came from João Pessoa, Paraíba, and was impressed by the pageant. “I've been swept away by this display of faith and shared sentiment we see at the Procession of the Torches. I would surely like to come again.”
Civil servant João Conceição da Silva, a farricocofor 32 years now, is as excited today as he was when he first joined. “It's such a thrill I still get goosebumps,” he said.
The long-held traditional event in the colonial town, which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, draws visitors from throughout Brazil. Originally held in Spain and Portugal, the tradition was brought to Goiás by Spanish priest João Perestelo Espíndola. The ritual used to represent penance and public rebuke of sinners, and later evolved to recall the agony and the arrest of Christ in the Garden of Olives.
According to the local cultural authority, the Procession of Torches is a bustling event that boosts local economy and tourism, second only to the International Environmental Film and Video Festival (FICA).
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Agência Brasil.