Easter magic in Sardinia
Sardinian Holy Week is a unique and exciting experience: rituals, processions and choral moments of great expressive force and suggestion are still repeated throughout the island. The processions of the Mysteries, the touching rites of the deposition from the cross, Su Scravamentu, and the encounter between the statues of Jesus and the Madonna, S’Incontru, are the most widespread celebrations in the streets of the villages of Sardinia.
Holly Week in Sardinia
The Holy Week rites in Sardinia are linked to traditional ceremonies spread on the island by Spanish culture and dating back to 1600. The liturgies of the representation of the passion and death of Christ are still celebrated with ancient ceremonials of medieval ancestry, mediated by the Iberian tradition.
The rites of Iberian origin are superimposed with elements of the most ancient Campidanese, Logudorese and Barbaricine traditions. Rites of pre-Christian origin, in particular linked to the Phoenician myth of Adonis which celebrated the death and rebirth of vegetation, in fact goes back to the tradition of sowing, on Ash Wednesday, grains of wheat or legumes that once sprouted become seedlings: is nenniris. The dishes full of earth or cotton wool in which the seeds have sprouted are displayed in the chapels of the churches where, on Holy Thursday, the Sepulchres are set up and adored the Blessed Sacrament. In the past these shoots were dried and used for fumigation against ailments.
Sardinia offers amazing spots for Ester time – from medieval traditional churchs with significant past to the modern ones, like Stella Maris in Porto Cervo and San Lorenzo in Porto Rotondo, which became the the symbol of extraordinary architecture.
Easter with elegance
Mediterranean jet-set hub Porto Cervo in the heart of Costa Smeralda is famous for its amazing tiny church Stella Maris in front of the sea.
The land on which the Stella Maris church stands was donated by prince Aga Khan to the Christian community. A generous gesture, also considering that it is one of the most beautiful locations in Porto Cervo. The architecture of the Church was entrusted to one of the four great architects involved in the construction of the Smeralda coast: Michele Busiri Vici. Stella Maris is in fact a jewel of Mediterranean architecture: simple and refined, it leads to prayer and contemplation, with emotion; purity is perhaps the word that best suits it. The monoliths at the entrance recall the archaic nature of religious cults, their essence, inside the juniper scent is a tribute to Sardinia, such as the floor of granite discs, the traditional carvings on the benches. One could talk at length about its treasures such as simplicity, precious architecture, bronze doors, the pipe organ of the 17th century, the Mater Dolorosa attributed to El Greco. But Stella Maris, an authentic symbol of Porto Cervo, should be visited in person.
The church of San Lorenzo di Porto Rotondo, was built on a project by the sculptor Andrea Cascella, and completed inside by Mario Ceroli. The vault of the church has the shape of an overturned hull of a ship, between the bundles of wood that make up the vault, groups of figures appear that make up the Last Judgment.
The new Piazzetta Leonina and the 7 profiles carved in polychrome marble are the works of the sculptor Mario Ceroli; the marbles are: that of Pius XII is green, Portugal pink for John XXIII, Marquinia black for Paul VI, Siena yellow for John Paul I, Damascus red for John Paul II, dark Emperador for Benedict XVI, blue for Maria Theresa of Calcutta.
Also for the church of San Lorenzo, Ceroli created a Murano glass rose window which is a succession of profiles, similar to a large sun.
The church is located in the center of Porto Rotondo, a few steps from the harbor quay.
The procession of mysteries: the Lunissanti of Castelsardo
The main rites of Castelsardo’s Holy Week are the Lunissanti, the Prucissioni and lu Lcravamentu.
Lunissanti castellanese is a unique popular event of its kind in which the Mysteries, the instruments of the Passion of Jesus are carried in procession. The rite is held on Holy Monday and represents a synthesis of popular sentiment, where the sacred and solemn moment of the re-enactment della Passione merges with the profane feast for the return of spring.
The ceremony begins very early with a mass celebrated at dawn in the chapel of Santa Maria. The apostles (confreres chosen to bring the mysteries) and the singers (members of the three choirs participating in the rites) who wear the dress of the confraternity, a white tunic with hood, participate in the mass.
As soon as the mass is finished, the procession starts, in which the Mysteries alternate with the groups of singers parade, starting their choirs: lu Miserere, lu Stabat and lu Jesu.
The procession heads towards the abbey of Our Lady of Tergu advancing to the rhythm of the songs with a stop for each singing shift. After a few hours, upon reaching the Monastery of Tergu, the Mysteries are exposed in front of the altar according to their order of arrival, while the choirs continue and the sacraments are celebrated. A large crowd follows the evocative procession that runs through the medieval streets in penumbra.
At the end of the mass the participants gather in groups to have lunch on the lawns in front of the abbey. These are the moments in which the arrival of spring is celebrated with lunches and parties. In the evening we return to the village following the same route of the morning and the procession ends with the entrance into the church of Santa Maria.
In fact, for Castelsardo and its inhabitants, this festival represents a true cultural identity and is the symbol of attachment to one’s homeland.
In the early hours of the night of Holy Thursday, however, the Prucissioni (procession) with lu Crucifissu and Maria di lu Pientu (simulacrum of the Addolorata) begins. The procession is accompanied by the two choirs of the Santa Croce brotherhood, the Miserere and the Stabat Mater.
Good Friday is dedicated to lu Ilcravamentu, a sacred representation of the deposition of the Christ of the cross. A ceremony, also of medieval origin that presents strong Baroque elements, making it unique in its kind. The procession starts from the Church of Santa Maria and accompanies the Addolorata Madonna to the Cathedral. Here the Christ is freed from the crown of thorns and nails, presented to the people and offered to the Madonna. The procession ends in the church of Santa Maria with the assault on the flowers blessed in contact with the Body of Christ.
Holy week in Sassari
Tradition, faith and ancient rites handed down by the brotherhoods make Sassari’s Holy Week one of the most interesting celebrations on the island. The Procession of the Mysteries on Holy Tuesday is undoubtedly the most awaited moment.
The members of the Confraternity of the Mysteries carry the five statues in processions representing the different moments of the Passion of Christ: Jesus in the Garden, the capture of Jesus, the scourged Christ, the Ecce Homo and the Christ on the cross. From the church of the Holy Family starts the procession opened by a confrere who marks the rhythm with a drum, followed by two confreres, who carry Lu Rocciu, long sticks with which they command the rhythm of the procession, from the sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and from the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows pierced by seven daggers representing the Sorrows. The procession walks up to the church of the Holy Trinity where the rite ends in the presence of the musical band.
According to tradition, the statues from the Procession of the Mysteries date back to 1685, when a noblewoman bought them from Spain.
Holy Wednesday is the day of the procession of the Addolorata organized by the confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. Also in this case the mysteries parade, the gang and all the brotherhoods that hold banners representing the Ecce Homo and Christ in the vegetable garden plus a Jesus on the Cross held horizontally by 3 confreres.
On Holy Thursday the traditional ritual of washing of the feet is held, while on Good Friday the ceremonial is repeated with the mass fleeing fleeing reminiscent of the trial and condemnation of Jesus and in the evening the procession from the Crocifero (Pabarrottu) is held which carries a cross to arms from which hangs a white stole in memory of the deposition.
Finally, on Easter Sunday the S’incontru (meeting) of Jesus with Mary is celebrated with the brotherhood of the Servants of Mary and the brotherhood of the Holy Trinity.
Holy week in Aggius
The ancient rites of Holy Week in Aggius are of Spanish and medieval origin, from Palm Sunday to Easter passing through Holy Week is a succession of liturgical ceremonies and processions in the evocative darkness of the evening.
On Good Friday the procession for the visit to the Sepulchres takes place, the Sippulcri are prepared in the oratories with drapes and vases of wheat sprouted in the dark. At night, in the parish church, two confreres of Santa Croce take their places on the sides of the large cross hoisted in the center of the presbytery and following the description of the preacher they perform the Undoing (lu Sgraamèntu) and the deposition of Christ from the Cross.
On Easter day the mass is preceded by the procession of the two confraternities of the Rosary and of the Holy Cross, who, respectively leaving their Oratories with the two simulacra of the Risen Christ and the Madonna, meet in the main square of the town. The encounter between the Risen Christ and the Madonna is called lu ‘ntoppu.
Easter aggese has its epilogue in the parish church where the singing of Regina Coeli is sung, with delicious melisms by the soloist and with the solemn and majestic Alleluia in crescendo.
Typical Easter Bread in Sardinia: su coccoi cun s’ou
Among the traditions that Sardinia has preserved over the centuries, that of preparing the typical bread of sa Pasca Manna is certainly among the most suggestive from a symbolic point of view.
The origin of the egg as an imperishable symbol of the rebirth of Nature is lost in the mists of time. Today it is customary to give children chocolate or directly plastic eggs with a mega surprise (there are fantastic ones!). Traditionally, however, it was customary to give children angels, on loaves or cocci cun s’ou, a gift that perhaps was brought to the countryside for Easter Monday (Lunis de s’àngiulu) or that was eaten at home during the feast of the resurrection.
Cook at home your Sardinian Easter bread
Su coccoi cun s’ou can also be prepared with children, perhaps on Holy Saturday or when you have time. The recipe, available in various versions, can be simplified. What is important is the ritual, the realization of a gastronomic project rich in symbolic and aesthetic values which, although very ancient, is today more and more current.
Few ingredients that will give you the opportunity to indulge your imagination.
Here are the ingredients for the preparation of about 8/10 loaves of Su Pani or coccoi cun s’ou:
- 1 kg of re-milled semolina
- 1 stick of brewer’s yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt water (About 500 ml)
- Eggs (1 for each loaf).
Let’s start preparing this delicious bread. First of all, pour the flour and the baking powder in a bowl, previously dissolved in a little warm water.
At this point we will combine the remaining water and salt. We knead the dough by hand until a smooth and compact mixture is obtained.
After letting it rise for 2 hours, we will divide the dough into 8 or 10 pieces.
Let’s move on to the eggs. Once blanched for a few minutes, we will let them cool for later use.
We pick up the pieces of the dough and work them to obtain crowns where we will insert the eggs in the center (1 for each loaf).
We decorate the pasta with the help of scissors, wheels and a knife with a sharp blade. At this stage you can give free rein to your artistic flair.
Once finished with the decorations, we will leaven the loaves for 1 hour and then bake them in the oven at 200 ° C for 40/45 minutes.