For young Catholics in Tlalixtac de Cabrera, Oaxaca, preparations for the town’s ambitious Passion of Christ procession begin at least a year ahead of time.
The pageant depicts the final days of Christ according to Catholic tradition, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem before the Last Supper, his trial, crucifixion and death on Good Friday.
The 44th edition of the Tlalixtac event is expected to draw 10,000 spectators, the number who attended last year.
To be selected as one of the reenactment’s 100 participants, young hopefuls must meet a wide variety of strict requirements. These include attending mass every Sunday in the year leading up to the procession, actively participating in the devotional life of the church and demonstrating moral and ethical behavior in public and at home.
In addition, they must attend prayer meetings in May and June, attend organizational meetings for the procession every eight days and carry out unpaid community service projects. As a special condition, participants may not live with romantic partners out of wedlock.
For the past five months, the young men, women, boys and girls who will portray various biblical characters in the procession have prepared almost tirelessly, both mentally and physically, with the guidance of spiritual advisors from the church.
The physical preparations entail getting the youths ready to walk barefoot in the town’s streets for over seven kilometers.
Yuridia Vianey, 13, was selected this year to play the part of the Virgin Mary after she was personally inspired by a previous Passion of Christ event to ask for the role.
“I’ve come to see [the Passion] for years now. I liked the speech that Mary delivers to Jesus in the pageant, and so I said, ‘Some day that’s going to be me,’ and it’s finally my turn to give the speech. I have participated as part of the village for three years, and so last year I asked for the role of Mary and they gave it to me.”
Carpinter Erick García Contreras, 23, will represent Jesus. He takes the role seriously, running several kilometers every day, eating healthily and regularly walking around town barefoot.
García has participated for 12 years in other roles in the procession, but he asked for the role of Jesus this year in the hopes of communicating his faith to spectators.
“I asked for the role to be able to get people to think about and understand what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us so they don’t do evil.”
Source: El Universal (sp)