Mercatello sul Metauro - The Procession of the Dead Christ


The ancient brotherhood of the Holy Cross of Mercatello (born in the second half of the 13th C.), has erected an oratory dedicated to the Sacred Wood to promote its cult. Also, the statue of the dead Christ, which archival documents attest having a "foreign country - it is likely to assume of German origin, North European or otherwise- has been made the object of their devotion.
The 185-cm.-high leather polychrome manufact is a work donated in 1285 by Giuseppe Olimbrelli, a doctor in Mercatello. Probably it was originally used for those religious plays that the same brotherhood was used at animating during the Holy Week.
This exceptional and unique work has the body entirely made of leather and is tanned with a special technique, so as to leave all the flexibility of the joints (a popular legend spoke of turkish leather). They are clearly visible the seams and the various layers of color, added through the centuries. The statue has undergone alterations especially in the face, while the other parts of the body retained their overall shape.
Every year, on the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it is taken from the ancient Church of the Holy Cross and transferred to the collegiate church, where it is affixed to a large cross in the presbytery.
On the sides of it are placed the wooden statues of the Virgin of Sorrows and St. John, works of Elio Righetti from Brescia, dated 1911.
After the liturgical celebration of Good Friday, the Christ is taken down from the cross and the scene assumes realistic tones, for the material with which the artefact is built makes it so easily swivel that the movements of the body and in particular of the head create a realistic and suggestive scene. There follows the deposition of the Dead Christ in the coffin, for which linen bandages and a white cloth are used. After this, a massive procession composed of brotherhoods, the town band, the Third Order Franciscan clergy, boys with "Mysteries" and many faithful, accompanies the Dead Christ followed by the statues of the Virgin of Sorrows and San John, to the church of the Holy Cross. For the transportation a bier and a black canopy of the late 18th C., both decorated with filaments and gold embroidery, are used.
Once the procession is concluded, the statue is placed back in the urn and devoutly venerated by the faithful.
On the evening of Good Friday the brothers of the SS. Sacramento (Blessed Sacrament), guardians of the church, on evoking the evangelical scene of the burial of Jesus in the day of Preparation, close the Dead Christ in an urn through a frontal in which is reproduced the image of the statue, work on canvas (1595) by Giorgio Picchi.

Mercatello sul Metauro - The Procession of the Dead Christ

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