Viernes Santo

Jesús passing the main church of Loja

Viernes Santo, Good Friday, is the most holy day in the Spanish Catholic calendar. All towns and villages have their processions during Semana Santa, Holy Week,  but in Loja the Easter processions are amongst the most significant in Andalucia.

Incensarios leading the procession

Plaza Constitución

This morning the most important procession of the week started from the Ermita de Jesús and followed the narrow streets of the old town to the main church of Santa Maria de la Encarnación. Semana Santa in Loja is distinguished by its famous “Incensarios” ( incense carriers ) – groups of eight men who, in reverence to the images, perform an extraordinary dance comprising graceful curtseys punctuated by stampings. Their elegant costumes, one group in  white and others in black, are crowned by tall, conical, richly beaded hats. The waving of incense is accompanied by haunting songs, very Arabic in influence, demonstrating the fascinating mix of Islam and Christianity which is so typical of this part of Spain.


The statue of Santa Marcela, which led the procession, was followed by the statue of Jesús carrying his cross, accompanied by Roman centurions resplendent in purple and gold. The images of the saints were followed by drummers, a band, penitents with covered faces and tall, black, conical hats and others from the participating “hermanidads”. The Virgen de la Angustias, adorned with white flowers, was the final image to be paraded.

Virgen de las Angustias

Penitents in Plaza Constitución

The procession, which lasts all day, makes a circular tour of the town and we watched it from the main church and the Plaza Constitución. Although a solemn occasion, it was a quite spectacular event and full of colour beneath a cloudless blue sky.


About Margaret Merry

I grew up in Falmouth, Cornwall, England where, after leaving Falmouth High School, I spent a year at Falmouth School of Art. Then followed three years at Hornsey College of Art in London where I obtained a Diploma in Art and Design. I then spent a post-graduate year at the West of England College of Art in Bristol where I gained an Art Teacher?s Diploma and a Certificate in Education of the University of Bristol. I lived and worked in Truro for over 30 years and became one of Cornwall's most popular artists. My paintings have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Paris and London and have been bought by collectors from all over the world. I have published 4 books which became local bestsellers - 'The Natural History of a Westcountry City', 'Margaret Merry's Cornish Garden Sketchbook', 'Sea & Sail' and 'Tidal Reaches'. In 2002 I moved to Spain and now live pn a small farmer the town of Alhabia in the Alpujarra Almeriense in the Province of Almeria. I now get my inspiration from the dramatic scenery of Andalucia and its old cities, towns and villages which I usually capture in watercolour. I also enjoy portraiture and figurative art, particularly nudes and dancers. For these paintings I use artists' soft pastels. I have written and illustrated 3 children's books - The Wise Old Boar, The Lonely Digger and The Adventure of Princess The Pony - which have been published in the USA.
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