Good Friday in Assisi: Ancient Traditions Live On

Countless religious customs and innumerable processions in Italy are rooted in medieval street theater. The Holy Thursday and Good Friday traditions in Assisi are living examples. On Holy Thursday night in the 12th-century San Rufino cathedral, the crucified Christ image is detached from His Cross in the ceremony of the scavigliazione (“un-nailing”) and laid on a wine-colored funeral bier which is then covered with a gold-fringed burgundy canopy. From the Middle Ages, crucifixes with removable Cristo Morto images were common and were made specifically for the religious processions.

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