The Misteries of Trapani – Good Friday in Sicily

Easter is approaching again…. As I posted last year, I travelled around in Sicily during the Holy Week of 2016, and saw some religious traditions: U Signuruzzu a Cavad du in CaccamoHoly Monday processions in Enna and so on. After Etna, I moved on to the western part of the island for the Holy Thursday Procession in Marsala and Processione dei Misteri di Trapani on Good Friday.

The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani or simply the Misteri di Trapani (in English, the ‘Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani’ or the ‘Mysteries of Trapani’) is a day-long passion procession featuring twenty floats of lifelike wood, canvas and glue sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion, a passion play at the centre and the culmination of the Holy Week in Trapani.

The Misteri are amongst the oldest continuously running religious events in Europe, having been played every Good Friday since before the Easter of 1612, and running for at least 16 continuous hours, but occasionally well beyond the 24 hours, are the longest religious festival in Sicily and in Italy. (source: Wikipedia)

Programme for Holy Week 2016


The Misteri are an artistic representation of the Passion and Death of Jesus through twenty sculptural groups, including two statues of the Dead Jesus and of the Lady of Sorrows. They were granted in trust, by deeds, by the Brotherhood of St Michael the Archangel, which instituted the rite in the late 16th century, to the members of the local Guilds in exchange of the promise to carry them during the passion procession every Good Friday. (Wikipedia)

At 2 pm, the procession commenced from Chiesa del Purgatorio accompanied by the local marching bands.

The statues are taken around Trapani by the portatori, volunteers who carry them on their shoulders and walk with a particular step called nnacata, rocking sideways.


Stood still for about 5 hours to observe all the 20 statues!

The procession continues throughout the night…

even in rain…. (shower the following morning)


retiring into the church 24 hours after (about 23 hrs in 2016)


The people

Holy Monday in Enna, Sicily

On the following day after I saw U Signuruzzu a Cavaddu on Palm Sunday, I left Caccamo early in the morning for Enna. The commune holds traditional rites during the whole Holy Week, and I went up there to observe four religious processions on Holy Monday.

Once my Spanish friends invited me to Valladolid in Spain for its famous fiesta in Semana Santa, Holy Week (unfortunately I couldn’t make it because of my fracture  😦  ). So when I heard about the processions during  Settimana Santa in Sicily, it rang a bell and I was right. The Sicilian Easter tradition dates back to the Spanish domination over the island of the 15th to 17th centuries.

Semana Santa de Valladolid

Programme of Holy Monday Processions in Enna

9.30 – Confraternity of St Anne (departs from the Church of St Cataldo)
11.00 – Confraternity of Our Lady of Visitation (from the Church of St Mary of Jesus in Mount Salvo)
16.00 – Confraternity of St Mary of Graces (from the Church of St Augustine)
17.00 – Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament (from the Church of St Thomas)
18.00 – Confraternity of Our Lady ‘the New Woman’ (from its church)

I missed 9.30 one but witnessed the rest.

Marching Band followed by the confraternities
Procession of Confraternity of Our Lady of Visitation

Every procession ends at the Duomo
Confraternity of St Mary of Graces at St Augustine
heading to the Duomo
Confraternity of St Mary of Graces
Confraternity of St Mary Graces
Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament


Confraternity of Our Lady ‘the New Woman’ with full moon
the last procession, Confraternity of Our Lady ‘the New Woman’




Sicilian Holy Week – Settimana Santa e Pasqua 2016

Some of you may already know, but I went to Sicily last month – travelled around during Holy Week and Easter. That was my fourth trip to the island, and I had already seen a lot. The purpose of visit this time was to see the religious traditions of Holy Week.

In Sicily, various towns and villages celebrate the week in their own ways, and there revive very ancient and picturesque traditions: procession with religious symbols is one of them. I planned a tight itinerary so that I could observe as many festivities as possible.

Palermo – (Selinunte : one day trip from Palermo) – Caccamo – Enna –  Trapani -(Favignana, Marsala : quick visits from Trapani) – Palermo – (Cefalù : one day trip from Palermo)

I took hundreds of photos, and have so many things I want to write here, esp. food stuff 😀 – put on 2 kg during the trip 😦   – so this is a digest of the trip, and I will post more details later on.


Palermo – St Joseph’s Day (19th March 2016)

The first one was Festa di San Giuseppe, or St Joseph’s Day on 19th March. St Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily. Actually, the festa is not a part of Holy Week, but it fell on just before Palm Sunday this year, so I luckily witnessed the event – St Joseph’s Bonfire the night before St Joseph’s Day.

A Sicilian friend mentioned the fire is a symbol of coming of spring, and I learnt that St Joseph’s day brings the hope of spring and a break from Lent for Sicilians. Just thought it might be a pagan origin like the bonfire of the eve of All Saints’ Day, i.e. All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween.

And also, it probably comes from Joseph’s profession as a carpenter. In Spain, ‘carpenters and woodworkers clean out their shops and burn all the wood scraps on the evening of the patron’s feast.’

 St Joseph's Day
Vampa di San Giuseppe, or St Joseph’s bonfire in Palermo

And enjoyed Sfincia too.

Sfincia di San Giuseppe – fried pastry puffs filled with ricotta cream for St Joseph’s Day

Just wondering if Sfincia, Krapfen/Pfannkuchen and Sfganiyah have the same origin?????



Tried Selinunte this year as I saw the archaeological site at Agrigento in 2012. Segesta maybe next time.

The Temple of Hera
Temple E, or the Temple of Hera at Selinunte (c. 650 BC)


Caccamo – Palm Sunday (20th March 2016)

U Signuruzzu a Cavaddu
U Signuruzzu a Cavaddu on Palm Sunday in Caccamo
Palm Fronds
palm fronds for Palm Sunday


Enna – Holy Monday (21st March 2016)

Holy Monday Procession
Procession of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Visitation in Enna



Made a quick visit to the island – about 30 min hydrofoil journey from Trapani.

Cala Rossa, Favignana
Cala Rossa, Favignana


Marsala – Holy Thursday (24th March 2016)

Holy Thursday Procession
Holy Thursday Procession in Marsala


Trapani – Good Friday (25th March 2016)

Processione dei Misteri
Processione dei Misteri in Trapani
Statue of the Mysteries
One of Jesus statues of the Mysteries


Palermo & Cefalù – Easter (27th March 2016)

Pasqua seemed very quiet and nothing special other than going to church.  Just a day to spend with family?

Agnellini Pasquali
Agnellini Pasquali – marzipan lambs for Easter

One of my favourite places in Sicily. Lots of people were enjoying the sun and the beach on Pasqua.

Cefalù – one of ‘Cinema Paradiso’ locations: Elena’s apartment, outdoor cinema scenes