Brotherhood of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Zaragoza)

Posted on March 31, 2018


Zaragoza prepares for the Holy Week, which will take place this year from March 24th to April 1st. It is one of the moments of the year with a greater number of visitors to the city.

The Holy Week in Zaragoza was declared a Festival of international tourist interest in 2014. Its 700-year history, its 53 processions and over 15,000 members turn it into a national and international reference in the matter of religious tourism. It is also a singular celebration among all those organised in Spain.

The sound of the Holy week in Zaragoza is unique: the 4,000 drums and bass drums which parade through the streets and accompany the processions produce an overwhelming thunder. Another singularity is the procession of the Holy burial, the longest and oldest in Spain. This breathtaking procession includes all the brotherhoods and forms the largest concentration of drums and bass drums.

The Holy Week in Zaragoza is a tradition that dates back several centuries. It intermingles Castilian and Andalusian influences that come together with the strength of the Aragonese drums. That’s why it shouldn’t surprise you that the jota and the saeta blend together: local and foreign elements have merged to create something new and very different.

In order to feel the essence of this religious and cultural manifestation, you must keep your eyes open and all your senses ready. The smell of incense, the beauty of the religious statues in the “pasos”, the colour of the different robes and “capirotes” and the thundering sound of the drums that thrill the body… all this makes this event a unique experience.

We leave you a preview of what you can experience in Zaragoza during the Holy Week:


More information to come on our web site, stay tuned!

The Holy Week of Zaragoza has more than 700 years of history, 53 processions, some of them unique for their uniqueness and more than 16,000 brothers. But what really makes our Holy Week a peculiar and different event is precisely its sound; more than 7,000 drums and drums accompany the steps and processions throughout the city, vibrating citizens and visitors from all corners.

The Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi

Throughout the 18th century, the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi organized three processions: that of the Encounter (Holy Tuesday), that of the Holy Burial (Good Friday) and that of the Resurrection (Easter Sunday). After the explosion of the convent of San Francisco in 1809, he suspended community life until 1815, when he returned to carry out a Via Crucis inside the cloister of the destroyed convent and the procession of the Encounter. In 1819, installed the friars in the new convent, tried to resume the procession of the Holy Burial after the act of the Descent, which was the subject of a prolonged litigation with the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ, which was responsible for organizing it from 1827. The VOT continued carrying out the procession of the Meeting during the first decades of the 20th century.

The Very Illustrious Ancient and Real Brotherhood of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mother of God of Mercy

One of the purposes of the religious of the convent of San Francisco was the collection of abandoned corpses, a function that were gradually left in the hands of laymen. Still today, the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ, with headquarters since the sixteenth century in the convent, collects all the bodies left behind in the term of the judicial party of Zaragoza. With the ups and downs of the War of Independence were destroyed all the steps that were part of the procession of the Holy Burial, except the Christ of the Bed (dated to 1622), which was rescued. The Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ moved its headquarters, in 1813, to the church of Santa Isabel, resuming its activity, organizing the procession of the Holy Burial and commissioning, during the nineteenth century, new steps. At the moment it continues having its canonical headquarters in the Church of Santa Isabel de Portugal, from where it continues being in charge of the organization of Santo Entierro.

The Procession of the Holy Burial

From 1617 the Blood of Christ is responsible for the organization of this procession. At the end of the 18th century he ordered the realization of different steps with different mysteries of the Passion that will be lost during the Sites.

From 1818, the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ returned to order new processional steps, with which it continued organizing the procession of Santo Entierro. At the beginning of the 20th century this procession will undergo a renovation: adaptation and reform of most of the steps and costumes of the groups that paraded with them, the construction of new steps and the incorporation of new characters and choirs to the retinue. In this way the procession of the Holy Burial was celebrated until 1931. In the years 1932 to 1934, during the Second Republic, the procession by decision of the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ did not take place.

The new Brotherhoods

As of 1935 a series of events induces the faithful to group themselves in different brotherhoods.

From the eighteenth century, the steps were carried on the shoulders by the so-called thirdlings, farmers and ranchers around, who wore black habit and third. In 1935 the political tension and the difficulties through which the country was going through made the procession of the Holy Burial very difficult; there was a third strike, so the steps were taken by members of religious associations and young people.

In 1937, the first brotherhood of Holy Week will be created, organizing an independent procession and taking charge of the passage of Our Lady of Mercy. The new brotherhood has a different habit, which distinguishes it from its mother brotherhood, with which it participates in the procession of the Holy Burial.

In successive years other brotherhoods were created, up to 24, each with its own peculiarities, which were taking charge of the steps owned by the Blood of Christ, or commissioned their own steps. In 1940, the brotherhood of the Seven Words will choose the Tambor del Bajo Aragón to accompany its processional parades, an instrument that will be adopted later by most of the brotherhoods. Some brotherhoods preferred to recover more Zaragoza traditions, such as rattles, rattles or the song of the jota accompanied by the drum.

The biggest peculiarity of our Holy Week is that the brotherhoods in their entirety, in addition to carrying out their particular processions, are incorporated into the procession of the Holy Burial, composing a complete Way of the Cross, where you can contemplate all the moments of the Passion.

The Coordinating Board of Cofradías

This entity was created in 1948 due to the growing need to coordinate the various processions.

Its current statutes provide for the General Assembly of Elderly Brothers, as the supreme decision-making body and a Governing Board, as an executive body, eligible every four years. Its canonical seat is the church of Santa Isabel de Portugal.

The Coordinating Board of Brotherhoods is responsible for the organization of the Proclamation (Saturday prior to Palm Sunday) and the Contests and Exaltations of Holy Week Instruments. In the celebration of the Jubilee of 2000, the Coordinating Board premiered a script, which, since then, presides over all the acts that it organizes.

holy week zaragoza

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