Sunday, April 12, 2009

Holy Week: Commemorating 'The Passion' of Jesus

Every year during Holy Week, the week before Easter Sunday (whose date differs, like Christmas, for Orthodox and Catholic/Protestant Christians due to different calendars) millions of Catholic and Protestant faithful commemorate the culmination of their founding religious narrative, the suffering and sacrifice/death ("The Passion") of Jesus Christ, who for them has both divine and human attributes as the son of God. These cultural-religious rituals are diverse representations of the continuing spiritual and emotional impact religion has on people even in today's "modern" world, much to the chagrin of the intolerant neo-atheist ideologues like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

Watch this profoundly moving clip from the film The Passion of the Christ in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, goes to help her son as he falls to the ground under the weight of his cross, which he carries to his execution at Golgotha (the Place of Skulls), which today is believed to be the rocky outcrop on which the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built in Jerusalem's Old City. This clip is so moving because it emphasizes the fact that, for Christians, Jesus was also the son of Mary. It is this relationship that is highlighted in this clip.

The photographs below represent just a few examples of Holy Week this year around the world:

Penitents take part in the procession of "La Paz" brotherhood during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, April 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)

A Catholic devotee has his hands nailed on the cross as part of reenacting Christ's suffering on the cross during a Passion play as part of a religious ritual during Easter celebrations in a village in San Fernando, Pampanga, north of Manila, on April 10, 2009. Devout Catholics stage passion plays and crucifixions recounting the sufferings of Christ as part of observance of Easter celebrations in South East Asian archipelago nation of some 90 million of which 85 percent are Catholics amidst sharp criticisms from the church. (JES AZNAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Christian pilgrims carry a cross into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the sites where Christians believe Christ was crucified and buried, during the Good Friday procession in Jerusalem's old city on April 10, 2009. Thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world poured into the Holy City of Jerusalem to pray along the traditional route Jesus took to his crucifixion. (DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images)

Penitents take part in the "San Bernardo" brotherhood procession during the Holy Week in Sevilla on April 8, 2009. (CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Catholics balance baskets of clothes on their heads that symbolically belong to Jesus Christ - to be washed as part of Holy Week celebrations in Chalchuapa, El Salvador, Monday, April 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Luis Romero)

Hooded penitents from the Fusionadas brotherhood take part in the procession in Malaga, Spain, Wednesday, April 8, 2009. (AP Photo/EFE, Jorge Zapata)

The procession of "San Gonzalo" brotherhood takes place during Holy Week in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, April 6, 2009. (REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)

Catholic faithful hold palm fronds during Palm Sunday celebrations in Managua, Nicaragua on Sunday, April 5, 2009. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and is the start of the Catholic Church's Holy Week. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Filipino flagellants kneel in front of the church as they perform rites meant to atone for sins at San Fernando city, Pampanga province, northern Philippines on Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2009. Many Philippine devotees practice flagellation and penitence during the holy week in rites frowned upon by church leaders in Asia's largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A masked penitent kneels as he flagellates himself during the start of a procession as part of Holy Week celebrations through the streets of Taxco in the Mexican state of Guerrero April 9, 2009. Hundreds of penitents, bound and flagellating themselves, wound through the labyrinthine cobblestone streets of Taxco, an almost 500-year-old silver mining town built into a mountainside, in one of the most dramatic and heartfelt Easter rituals staged in this fervently Catholic country. (REUTERS/Henry Romero)

A view of Saint Peter's Square during the Palm Sunday Service on April 5, 2009 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

The statue of the La Merced Virgin is carried during the "La Merced" brotherhood procession of the Holy Week in Bollullos de la Mitacion, near Sevilla, Spain on April 9, 2009. Christian believers around the world mark the Holy Week of Easter in celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

A man, carrying a bundle of cactus on his shoulders in penance, also holds a cross during a procession of penitents during Holy Week in Taxco, Mexico, Thursday, April 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Catholic clergy walk during the Holy Thursday procession of the Washing of the Feet inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's Old City Thursday April 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

See more stunning photographs, and larger versions of photographs reproduced here, at

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