“Mysteries” are traditional Procidan allegorical floats made of poor materials for the Good Friday procession.
Mysteries of Procida
Those going to the beautiful Procida during the Easter period, will certainly find themselves in an atmosphere of great ferment, pervading the island and all its inhabitants.
The 'Mysteries' are handicrafts made every year representing biblical subjects: accurate representations of certain scenes, very often with a modern twist (e.g. Bible characters built as Lego characters!).
The Mysteries, made by teams belonging to the "Cultura e Tradizione Misteriale" association, start being worked months before Easter. They are then paraded, a tradition that has been handed down on the island for centuries, dating back to the end of the 17th century.
The floats are made of poor materials such as wood, cloth or papier-mâché and their size varies, so as the age and degree of professionalism of the artists involved do.
The "yards", where the Mysteries are "work in progress" until Good Friday before Easter, can be freely visited by tourists and the curious, who can leave an offering to help the work of the artists.
Everyone waiting for the Good Friday procession, leaving at the crack of dawn from the ancient village of Terra Murata (where the workshops of the Misteriale association are also located) and runs through the old town centre to Marina Grande, the island's port.
The Mysteries (between 40 and 60 each year) are carried by young islanders wearing 'confraternity' robes inspired by the Confraternita dei Turchini: turquoise cloaks on white robes.
A picturesque and spectacular tradition that, however, excludes young women: only men take part in the work and the procession.
In addition to the Mysteries, the procession includes the much-loved statue of the Dead Christ (sculpted, according to legend, by a jail prisoner), Our Lady of Sorrows and the pallìo, the funeral canopy.
Following the procession are also the faithful and little girls and boys: the 'little angels'.
At the end of the religious service, the Mysteries are dismantled and all the food part of the compositions (fruit, eggs, bread) is then distributed and eaten by the participants.
The Dead Christ
The story of this statue, deeply loved by every citizen of Procida, is actually different from the one told by the legends. Its author is Carmine Lantriceni, a Neapolitan sculptor of the 18th century. The Dead Christ was in fact sculpted in 1728.
It seems that Latriceni was an artisan expert in the art of nativity scenes and that the sculpture was expressly commissioned by the Confraternity of the Turchini, in order to carry it in procession. The Dead Christ is a baroque statue with a strong emotional background: it was built in such a way as to highlight the suffering and humanity of the figure of Christ, arousing in the viewer a great spiritual participation. The material used for the realization is polychrome wood and the structure of the statue suggests that its author, Lantriceni, had a deep knowledge of the human figure and how to convey its plasticity.
The statue of the Dead Christ can be visited in the Congrega dell'Immacolata Concezione of Procida, known as Congrega dei Turchini, in Via Marcello Scotti.
Procida and religion
The bond with the Christian faith in Procida is very strong, especially during the Easter period. Whether they are really believers or not, the citizens collaborate together to keep the traditions firm over the centuries, maintaining intact that uniqueness and that island pride, the same making Procida earn the title of Capital of Culture 2022. Even the visitor notices this and is involved in a great feast, where both penitence and joy find their place, together with a celebration of art and a manifestation of worship so exquisitely Campanian: devout but with a taste for baroque and excess.