Procession Za Križen (Following the Cross) on the Island of Hvar
The Procession “Following the Cross” is a very pious ceremony and an expression of the religious and cultural identity of the population of the central part of Hvar Island. It has been taking place for nearly five centuries uninterrupted. On the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, the Procession passes through 6 villages on the island: Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj and Vrboska. At the same time, processions start from six parish churches with a cross-bearer ahead, wearing a heavy cross as a symbol of prayer or gratitude, as his own or family pledge. He is followed by a chosen suite in brotherhood tunics and numerous worshippers and pilgrims. They stop in front of churches and chapels in other villages where greeted by priests and return to their parish church before dawn. The people in the Procession pass 25 kilometres in 8 hours. It is prepared and conducted by brotherhoods, i.e. communities of Hvar believers whose history has been profoundly marked by the cross. The central part of the Procession is the Lamentations of the Virgin Mary, an octosyllabic Passion-related text dating from the 15th century, sang in a dialogue form by chosen singers - kantaduri.
©Paulo Bunčuga, Return of the Procession in the morning hours, 2006