At the midnight of Easter Friday more than a thousand pilgrims set off from Tarragona for the Via Crucis Ecce-Homo, a sombre piece of devotion, in which followers carrying a large cross walk to the to the Sanctuary of Loreto.
It’s a simple procession, void of the traditional garbs and sounds that define the Semana Santa in Tarragona. Lead by the bearers carrying the heavy wooden sculpture of Jesus on the Cross, it moves briskly along the dim lit road stopping every so often to recite the events from the Station of the Cross. The prayers and songs travel from megaphone to megaphone somehow intruding in the intimacy of the procession, yet no one seems to mind.
The fields open leaving the Tarragona behind and the air cools filling with nightly scents of flowers and trees. Hundred of candles dripping in to paper holder light up the next step while in the far the bells of the Cathedral ring one o’clock.
At night ones seems to lose the sense of time. It feels like we have been walking for hours. Eyes rise up as the ascent becomes steeper to what looks like a light house on top of a hill. it’s the 26 meter high bell tower of the Sanctuary of Loreto a modern addition to a landscape of fields and old farm houses.
There is one more stop, the last of the calvary.
We arrive to the sanctuary at two thirty in the morning with coaches ready to take the first groups of pilgrims back to Tarragona, a brisk finale to the first act of holy Friday.
In a few hours the first mass will take place at the Cathedral of Tarragona and then, late afternoon the gigantic Processó del Sant Enterrament.