RAINED OFF RONDA…

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Good Friday and after a cameo appearance by the sun, it is raining again. Luckily not too heavily to prevent the 40-minute undulating drive through the Serranía to Ronda for the mid-day Good Friday procession of The Venerable Fraternity of the Christ of the Remedy and the Virgin of the Anguish.

Ronda – Gaucín’s nearest town – is a charming mix of old cobbled lanes and smart 18th century streets that span the impressive El Tajo (gorge) on the plains of the Serranía.

The Baroque Church of St Cecilia sits at the top end of a quiet wedge-shaped square off Calle Angel, a few minutes’ walk from the town’s Plaza del Toro. It is a hefty 17th century stone building with a flagstone frontage fenced off by tall iron railings. Two black-draped crucifixes flank the enormous but simple wooden doors to the church; it is a cold, bleak and damp scene.

A solitary film unit is set up directly opposite the church, parked nose to nose with a lone police car. Policía Civil bunch into doorways, their Hi-Viz waistcoats glowing in the gloom.

Clusters of onlookers gather on corners beneath the shelter of their umbrellas and the band begin to turn up in dribs and drabs as the skies darken overhead – their instruments protected from the drizzle with hastily improvised plastic bags.

Rain has stopped play this Good Friday and there will be no procession today! Finally, the celebrants fling open the doors and worshippers, onlookers and inquisitive tourists crowd into the church behind the band jostling for a glimpse of the elaborate litters. It is a shame that the procession is cancelled but understandable when you consider the delicate nature of the litters and the significant role they play in this most important of religious celebrations.

Two litters: Christ supported on silver bearing scenes of The Passion and the baroque gilded wooden one carrying The Virgin.

The Brotherhood comprises of over 800 men, women and children in white robes and disturbing violet hoods, although most have already taken up position inside the church and it is mainly children who dawdle outside. Huddled in a side entrance around the corner, a group of young female brethren puff hastily on a final cigarette before withdrawing inside.

People come and go but slowly over a period of an hour or so the crowd thins and families begin to return home to prepare a special lunch. There is second opportunity later in the day for another procession and perhaps the skies will be clearer for this one.

© Pip Art

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