Holy Week processions in Mendrisio*

*Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the UNESCO

The Holy Week processions, which are documented as far back as the second half of the 17th century, make their way through the old town of Mendrisio on the evenings of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The street lights are turned off specially so that the lanes can be bathed in the soft light given off by vast, illuminated pictures called "transparenti" dipinti traslucidi in tela montata su “casse” illuminate dall’interno, di forme e dimensioni diverse, che sovrastano il percorso della processione that hang above the entire route and depict scenes from the Gospels and the Old Testament. On the evening of Maundy Thursday, dozens of amateur players act out the Passion of Christ in a series of scenes based on the Gospels. Their performances feature horsemen, Roman soldiers and biblical figures in lavish costumes. La sfilata è caratterizzata dalla mancanza di dialoghi tra i personaggi, i quali si limitano a esprimersi tramite gesti e atteggiamenti silenziosi.

The simple and formal Good Friday procession is imbued with a more pronounced spirituality. More than 600 members of the various brotherhoods and church associations take part, marching through the streets with statues of the dead Christ and the grieving Virgin Mary, before which onlookers bow down. The procession is accompanied by three companies of musicians playing solemn funeral marches, with herald drummers on horseback leading the way and bringing up the rear. The Holy Week processions are preceded by the "Settenario", a church ceremony dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Detailed description


Performing arts




Giorgio Lazzeri, Renzo Petraglio: I trasparenti di Mendrisio. Storia dei quadri notturni della passione. Bellinzona, 1995

Giorgio Lazzeri, Mario e Flavio Medici, Alberto Nessi, Amleto Pedroli: Le processioni storiche di Mendrisio. Locarno, 1998

Interviste (a cura di Alessandra Bobbià): Giovanni Poma (13.07.2011, 18.07.2011), Rodolfo Bernasconi (09.07.2011, 13.07.2011). Centro di dialettologia e di etnografia. Bellinzona

Mario Medici: Le processioni della Settimana Santa a Mendrisio. Mendrisio, 1946

Mario Medici: Sagre del Mendrisiotto. Mendrisio, 1967

Mario Medici: Storia di Mendrisio. Mendrisio, 1980

Carlo Solcà, Gian Paolo Minelli: La manifestazione sacra di Coldrerio. Coldrerio, 1995



Fondazione processioni storiche di Mendrisio

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