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  • La Naca di Catanzaro

    By Anthony Parente

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    La Settimana Santa (Holy Week) and Pasqua (Easter) is an important time of the year for Italians. Throughout Italy you will find many towns celebrating in their own unique way. The small town of Prizzi, Sicily hosts U Ballu di Diavulu. Sulmona, Abruzzo celebrates La Madonna che Scappa in Piazza. The town of Catanzaro, which is the capital of the Calabria region, prepares for the religious festival of La Naca (dialect word meaning "the cradle").

    The origins date back to the 17th century. During the evening of Good Friday, a procession takes place representing the Passion of Christ. The Naca holds the statue of the dead Jesus and is adorned with silks, flowers, damasks and lights. Surrounding the statue of Jesus are four angels made of papier-mâché carrying symbols of the Passion (chalice, hammer and nails). Situated behind the angels and Jesus is a large illuminated cross. The Naca is carried on the shoulder by members of the fire brigade. It is followed by the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, dressed in black with a heart pierced by seven swords representing the seven sorrows of Mary.

    In the past the churches of the Immacolata, Carmine, San Giovanni and Rosario would hold their own procession for their parishioners. The days leading up to Good Friday it became a competition between the four Confraternities who competed for the black cross, which was the most important and awarded to whomever offered the most money or goods. It wasn't until 1937 when Monsignor Giovanni Fiorentini ordered that there only be one procession. Each of the Confraternities would take turns hosting this event in order of precedence starting with the Chiesa dell'Immacolata, Chiesa del Carmine, Chiesa del San Giovanni and Chiesa del Rosario.

    The procession winds through the streets of the historic city center. Preceding the Naca are banners and flags of the four Confraternities followed by the penitential crosses. Each Confraternity has its own cross. Light blue for Immacolata, white for Carmine, red for San Giovanni and black for Rosario. The crosses are carried like Jesus did on the fateful day centuries before. The procession concludes returning to the church from which it started.

    If you are in Calabria for La Settimana Santa make an effort to get to the city of Catanzaro and witness this unique tradition.

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