Easter in Italy, La Giudeata e i cristi parlanti

On the occasion of Easter, and the Holy Week preceding it, many regions of Italy find different rites that take place in the city streets, which were born in past centuries, some more famous than others because of not only their peculiarities, but also stories that explain its origins. Like La Giudeata di Chianciano Terme and the Talking Christians of Venice and Rome. 

The Giudeata of Chianciano Terme 

It has its origins in seventeenth-century representations and, despite the passage of time, it has never died out: it is “La Giudeata”, a tradition that occurs every year on Good Friday in the historic center of Chianciano Terme.  

The Giudeata was designed by Don Carlo Sensani, Antonello Betti and Luciano Pucello and consists of 150 people in historical costume. The first part sees the parade of Roman soldiers on horseback, of Christ carrying the cross to Calvary followed by the Madonna and the procession led by Pontius Pilate; later, appear the Senators and the court of Herod Antipas along with the Sanhedrin with the High Priest Caiaphas on his head.  

The historical procession, which takes place at the end of March, starts from the Church of the Company in the Historic Center, and is followed by the procession and the sacred effigies of the dead Christ. Before returning to the Church to worship the wooden Christ, the procession makes a stop outside the walls of the historic center, where the Gospel passages referring to the Passion of Christ are read.

At first, La Giudeata was a musical genre, which was able to inspire numerous iconographic representations. In Chianciano Terme, however, has all the characteristics of a real procession that makes its way through the city streets. The name, among other things, reminds us of the Jews who killed Jesus.  

The Talking Christ of Venice 

The story of the Talking Crucifix of the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice is essentially fascinating. At times unknown, it has returned to vogue especially in recent years, when it was decided to restore the precious artifact placed temporarily in the Badoer-Giustinian chapel and, later, placed on the altar on the occasion of Easter.  

Why the Speaking Crucifix? The sculpture in question is part of those rare variations of the types of crucifixes with tongue, a little disturbing and widespread especially in the late Gothic period throughout Europe, which were used precisely on the occasion of the Easter dramaturgic celebrations.  

The head of this 190 cm tall statue is dug like a shell to accommodate inside a mechanism through which it was possible to move a tongue. The final effect was to make smoke come out of the mouth through incense sticks, in order to represent the exhalation of the last breath of Christ. In short, a scene as dramatic as suggestive, in the full Easter atmosphere.  

The Talking Christ of Saint Bridget in Rome

The Basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura offers a spirituality that you can hardly try in other places. Custodian of the tomb of the Apostle Paul, the basilica is sacred, rigorous and majestic, but at the same time extremely humble.  

Inside, not everyone knows, there is one of the most important crucifixes for the biographical history of the saints. It is a wooden sculpture, with a very expressive face, as much suffering as resigned to the will of the Father. According to tradition, it is the Crucifix himself who spoke to Saint Bridget.  

Bridget was born in Finster, Sweden, into a Christian family. His biography is simply extraordinary, as well as interesting: he married the governor Ulf, with whom he lived for 28 years, before he died prematurely. Bridget, who at the time was in the peace of a monastery, decided to stay there and started a new life of penance and works of charity.  

Subsequently, she moved to the monastery of Alvastra and, right here, began the first divine revelations that accompanied her for the rest of her life. In this continuous dialogue with God and with Christ, he found particular devotion to the Passion of Christ; hence, the desire to make a pilgrimage to Rome, during which the episode of the “speaking” Crucifix happened: during the prayer, Bridget went into ecstasy and received a series of revelations which, later, spread among believers.  

Even today, the Parlante Crucifix in question, made by Pietro Cavallini, is placed inside the basilica, above the altar; in a corner niche on the left side, instead, is reproduced the statue of Saint Brigida, on her knees. All this is the object of devotion and prayer on the occasion of Easter, which takes us back in time to the revelations that Saint Bridget received and to a deep worship that has never abandoned the faithful

Copertina: Unsplash

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