The black procession on Good Friday in Sorrento
It boasts very ancient origins and fits into the context of traditions that date back as far as the 14th century. In fact, during the 1300s, Sorrento was the scene of devotional processions that, with the passing of the years, have assumed the physiognomy handed down to us today.
According to the testimonies handed down to us, in fact, already at that time the adherents to some lay brotherhoods, on Holy Thursday wore dark clothes and hoods and - illuminated by the only glow of lights and torches - they went symbolically visiting the Sepulchres set up to remember the last supper of the Christ. Among these lay organizations, the one dedicated to San Catello - from which originates the "Black Procession" of Sorrento - in 1586 he asked to be aggregated to the Archconfraternity of the "Death and Oration" which was located at the Church of San Marcello in Rome.
On the example of the "mother house", therefore, it was decided to give life to the Good Friday procession, destined to take its start in the dusk of Good Friday and to recall the passion of Jesus. On that occasion - then as today - the confreres carried a cross in procession between a spear (which recalled the one with which Jesus' side was pierced) and a sponge (which recalled what was offered to Jesus to quench his thirst). The song of the "Miserere" contributed to make an atmosphere that is already capable of arousing emotion even more suggestive. Over the centuries the procession has gradually been enriched with symbolic values thanks to the transport of the statue of the Dead Christ and the reproduction of the objects that have characterized the last moments of his life. At the end of the procession the hooded men returned to their church and the Prior ordered the lights to be extinguished. After having sung the Psalm of the Miserere, the confreres flagellated their breasts stripped naked with ropes and shields, amid the tears of the people who invoked forgiveness of their sins.