Get to know the main ceremonies that take place in the Cathedral of Braga, during Lent and Semana Santa de Braga.
Full of meaning and tradition and often moving and of extraordinary beauty, some of these ceremonies are unique in the world.
It coincides with the day after Tuesday of Carnival and is the first of the 40 days (Lent) between that Tuesday and the Holy Friday, prior to Easter Sunday. The ashes used in this ritual come from the burning of the blessed branches on Palm Sunday of the previous year. Holy water is mixed with these ashes. According to tradition, the celebrant of this ceremony uses these wet ashes to signal a cross on the forehead of each believer, uttering the phrase “Remember that you are dust and that to dust you will return” or the phrase “Repent and believe in the Gospel”.
The readings for this Mass are about the painful events endured by Jesus namely the narration of the Passion according to St. Mark, are about the painful events by Jesus that will be commemorated throughout Holy Week. Invited to follow his footsteps, Christians know that «if we suffer with Him, with Him we will also be glorified» (Rom 8, 17).
Antes, tem lugar a cerimónia, única no mundo (Rito Bracarense), à porta da Catedral, que simboliza e representa a entrada triunfal de Jesus em Jerusalém.
On this day the Church recalls the beginning of the Passion of his Lord, by especially celebrating the following events: institution of the priesthood; institution of the Eucharist; agony of Jesus and his trial. On this day, although discreetly, also commemorates the ancient tradition of the “Endoenças” (indulgence or forgiveness granted to public sinners).
In commemoration of the institution of the priesthood, Archbishop Primaz is accompanied by the entire clergy of the Archdiocese as a clergyman in full exercise of his priesthood, co-celebrating the Eucharist.
During the celebration he will bless the Holy Oils that will be taken by the priests to their parishes to be used in anointing the baptized and the sick.
Preceding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the presiding Archbishop washes the feet of twelve people representing the twelve Apostles. So we celebrate what Jesus did and updates his eloquent lesson : «Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that the time had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, led to the end His love. [ … ] He rose from the table, put down their garments and took a towel around His waist. After washing their feet [ … ] said to them, ‘Have you understood what I did to you? You call me Master and Lord, and you say well because I am. But if I, being Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. I have given you the example, so that just as I did, you may do as well’ »(Jn 13: 1-15) .
Ended this ceremony, follows the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It is a celebration dominated by the feeling of love of Christ which, on the eve of His Passion as he ate supper with the disciples, he instituted the Sacrifice – Sacrament of the Eucharist as a memorial of his death and resurrection to celebrate, making it always present, in the course of time: «During supper, he took the bread saying: – “Take, eat. This is my body, given for you.” In the same way, He took the chalice, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Take it and all drink. This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which is shed for you and for all for the remission of sins. Do this in remembrance of me” ‘»(Lk 22: 19-20).
At the time, the President of celebration makes the appropriate homily, with special focus on the lesson of the feet-wash and the «new commandment» given by Jesus as a spiritual testament to his disciples (Sermon of the Mandate). «I give you a new commandment: that you love one another. […] That will be when everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another as I have loved you»(Jn 13, 34-35).
After the mass, the congregation sings the hour of Vespers, while the living Christ present in the consecrated Host is carried in procession through the aisles of the Cathedral to a place of worship (representing the Garden of Olives), where it will remain until it is removed, the following day in procession as well, from there to the Tomb. The faithful are invited to guard with Him, at the hour of his Passion. In a sign of mourning, the altar is uncovered.
During the afternoon, the faithful are invited to visit the seven churches, which represent the Seven Stations of Rome — Sé Primaz (Primate), Misericórdia, Santa Cruz, Terceiros, Salvador, Penha and Conceição / Mons. Airosa.
At the same time, a large group of ‘farricocos’, cross the city centre with its noisy rattles. In their pagan origin, they were a masked group who crossed through the streets, announcing the way of the condemned and reporting their crimes. Already “Christianized”, in ancient times, with their mentality then roamed the streets calling the public sinners to their reintegration in the Church, after having repented and forgiven. It was the procedure those days to understand the mercy to sinners, to whom indulgence (endoença) had been applied to. Currently, a substituted lasting meaning is given to the call of the Brothers of Mercy to the Procession of the evening. The use of noisy “rattles” for this effect was introduced in remote years replacing the ringing of bells, which in major days of Holy week were silent.
At the same hour that Christ expired, Christians celebrate the mystery of his redeeming Death. There is no Mass, in His memorial, but direct celebration by integrating the sequence of the following acts:
Liturgy of the Word
Allusive reading to the sacrifice of Christ, interspersed with singing of psalms and narration of the Passion of Jesus according to St. John. The Bishop who presides gives the homily, traditionally known as the Sermon on the Burial.
Successive prayers for the needs of the Church and the world.
Adoration of the Cross
After being directed, covertly, to the Presiding Bishop, this provides the people the progressive discovery of the mystery – «Behold the wood of the Cross!», which at the same time invites to its adoration: – «Come, let us adore him!». The people in procession, reach closer to kiss and worship what was the price for their redemption.
Communing the Body of Christ, the faithful recall the words of St. Paul: “When you eat this bread [… ] you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11: 26). Then follows the singing of Vespers.
Then follows the Teofórica Procession of the Burial. Custom brought from Jerusalem by the Convent of Vilar de Frades, in the 15th or 16th century, then passed onto many cathedrals. Abolished in the 17th century, was kept in Braga Cathedral. This impressive procession, the Blessed Sacrament, enclosed in the coffin cloaked in black is carried through the naves of the Cathedral – hence the name Teofórica Procession (which carries God) – and deposed in a proper place for the veneration of the faithful. The followers cover their faces as a sign of mourning. Two young boys or two ladies, alternating with a responsorial choir, sing in Latin and a emotive tone of regret: «Heu! Heu! Domine! Heu! Heu! Salvator Noster!» (Oh! Oh My Lord! Oh! Oh! Our Savior!).
For the Easter Vigil, all the celebrations of Holy Week and even of the entire liturgical year congregate. Remembering the night of vigil of the Hebrew people in Egypt, awaiting the hour of release (Exodus 12), celebrate their own Christians redemption by the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. Therefrom, the great Easter or Passage from death to life or state of doom to the state of salvation. This is the ultimate victory of God, in Christ, over sin, evil and death itself. On the spiritual scope, the Christians take the grace of this passage by Baptism. Therefore, the baptismal liturgy has a prominent place.
The Easter Vigil – named after St. Augustine «the mother of all Vigils» – is a most solemn celebration, rich in global symbolism and particular symbols: darkness, light, water, paschal candle, joyful color of vestments the explosion of sound and light.
It integrates four parts and concludes with the Resurrection Procession.
Liturgy of Light
With Christ resurrected, the Light has shined in the darkness. The Easter candle is the symbol of this and is brought in procession and placed before the faithful.
Participants are invited to hold lit candles in their hands, imitating those servants of which the Gospel speaks (Lk 12: 35-37), who await, vigilantly, their Lord who will make them sit at His table. This part ends with the singing of the Pregão (Proclamation), solemnly announcing the victory of Christ.
Liturgy of the Word
God’s marvellous works are recounted within the story of salvation, from the creation of the world until the grand gesture »New Creation« through the resurrection of Christ, the start and beginning of a new world. The readings are alternated with acclamations, the last being the singing of the Easter Hallelujah. At the song of Glory, the darkened Cathedral suddenly becomes a burst of light.
The saints are invoked with the Ladainha song. The Baptismal water is blessed and carried in the procession. The people are sprinkled. Baptismal promises are renewed. If there are baptisms scheduled, the Sacrament is administered.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Festive celebration of the first Easter Mass of Easter. Towards the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, which had been closed in the coffin cloaked in black, is placed in the monstrance and taken to the high altar. The Procession of the Resurrection, typical of the Braga Ritual, is held through the aisles of the Cathedral. Back at the main altar, the living Christ in the white Host blesses all the faithful, which bid Him farewell by listening and singing the Regina Coeli, laetare (Queen of Heaven, rejoice), in a congratulating way of Senhora das Dores (Lady of Sorrows) transforming into a Senhora da Alegria (Lady of Joy).
Every Sunday is a day of paschal day, because it symbolizes and evokes, in the Christian rhythm of weeks, the first day of a new world opened with the Resurrection of Christ. Easter Sunday is, in this sense, the example of every Sunday. So proclaims the Liturgy: “This is the day the Lord has made! Be glad and rejoice and sing for joy!” Therefore, the Church celebrates with special solemnity the Eucharist, memorial recalling that mystery.