Easter processions in Mendrisio – UNESCO cultural heritage

Customs Ticino

The Easter processions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in Mendrisio are undoubtedly among the most impressive Swiss customs and are a proud UNESCO cultural heritage site. These moving events take place in an atmosphere steeped in tradition and give spectators a deep insight into the Passion of Christ.

Easter processions in Mendrisio – UNESCO cultural heritage

The origins of the Easter processions in Mendrisio date back to the second half of the 17th century. When the processions begin, the street lights in Mendrisio go out and the town is bathed in the soft light of the “Transparente”. These impressive illuminated pictures, some of which date back to the 18th century, are stretched across the streets and show impressive scenes from the Gospel.

On Maundy Thursday, the procession depicts Christ’s walk to Golgotha, while on Good Friday the moving burial of Jesus Christ is staged. The Easter processions are celebrated by the locals with great devotion and fervent spirituality and attract numerous visitors from all over the world every year.

The Easter processions of Mendrisio are more than just religious events; they are a living testimony to the deep-rooted traditions and cultural heritage of the region. The impressive “banners” convey an atmosphere of devotion to the spectators and offer a unique opportunity to experience biblical history up close. The Easter processions in Mendrisio are therefore not only an event of religious significance, but also a fascinating cultural experience that transports spectators to a bygone era.

Procession on Maundy Thursday

On the evening of Maundy Thursday, an impressive spectacle is staged in Mendrisio, in which dozens of amateur actors re-enact the Passion of Christ in a series of impressive scenes. The procession is accompanied by the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, the wistful Veronica, who shows the shroud, the condemned thieves, the Roman soldiers and the Jews, who follow Jesus on his painful path of suffering through the town.

The role of Jesus Christ is chosen by lot every year, and the chosen person may only play this important role once in their life. The identity of the performer remains a closely guarded secret until the start of the procession. All participants wear colorful costumes of inestimable value, which come from the collection of the famous La Scala in Milan. The magnificent costumes lend the procession a special atmosphere and emphasize the importance of the event.

Due to the historical value of the costumes and props, the processions are canceled in the event of rain for safety reasons. The valuable costumes must be carefully cared for and protected in order to preserve their beauty and authenticity.

Procession on Good Friday

The Good Friday procession in Mendrisio is characterized by a strong spiritual-liturgical character and has probably been held for a long time, possibly older than the procession on Maundy Thursday. It was originally initiated by the monastic order “Servi di Maria”.

The impressive Good Friday procession called “Enterro” brings together members of various brotherhoods and church associations. Together, they solemnly carry baroque figures depicting the dead Christ and the sorrowful Virgin Mary through the picturesque alleyways of the village. These precious figures adorn the altar of the church of San Giovanni all year round.

Taking part in the Good Friday procession is of great spiritual significance for the faithful. The solemn carrying of the baroque figures through the village symbolizes the grief and compassion for the suffering of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The procession creates a deeply moving atmosphere of devotion and reverence that allows the faithful to immerse themselves in their world of faith.

The Good Friday procession is an important event in the religious calendar of Mendrisio and attracts believers and visitors from all over the region every year. The dedication and commitment of the members of the brotherhoods and associations that make this traditional procession possible reflect the community’s deep attachment to its religious practice. The procession is therefore not only an expression of spiritual devotion, but also a testimony to the living tradition and culture of Ticino.

Video Processioni storiche di Mendrisio 2017

“Death! To the cross!” shouted the villagers of Mendrisio in southern Ticino on Maundy Thursday. They took part in the historic Easter procession in 200 different roles. The story performed in the alleyways of the old town tells the tale of suffering and the condemnation of Jesus Christ to death on the cross. Another procession takes place on Good Friday.

Processioni storiche di Mendrisio 2017

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Video Mendrisio’s Passion of the Christ

For more than 200 years, the people of Mendrisio in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland have been re-enacting Christ’s path to Calvary in a spectacular procession through the town’s medieval streets. The identity of the man who will play Christ is kept secret from the rest of the performers until the end of the procession.

Mendrisio's Passion of the Christ

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Video Processioni storiche di Mendrisio

Processioni storiche di Mendrisio

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