There is a saying that silence can be deafening. It can also evoke a profound sense of sadness.
In a town full of scurrying vendors, clanging basura trucks, yelling milkmen, and the laughter of children, silence pervades all on this Friday. It is the absence of church bells that truly disturbs.
Not a single bell will ring in San Miguel de Allende on Viernes Santo, Good Friday.
All of San Miguel and the surrounding villages are headed towards the steps of La Parroquia to witness or participate in the Trial of Christ. Events begin at high noon, and the sun is unrelenting.
As we make our way to the church courtyard, it is almost impossible to find a spot among the waiting thousands. At last the realistic trial begins as Roman soldiers emerge to announce the charges against the accused.
Before the entire town of San Miguel, a complete trial ensues with loud accusations, taunting Roman soldiers, and charges of " Guilty, guilty!". The "criminals" then parade around the perimeter of the Jardín escorted by legions of Roman soldiers, a host of saints, followed by angels and magnificent replicas of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
One by one, antique saints emerge from the side sanctuary of La Parroquia. The sight of these figures in broad daylight is breathtaking. Equally appreciated is the sheer weight of each image. As many as 30 to 40 saint-bearers carry the sacred figures, each saint dressed in splendid finery and laden with additional kilos of fresh flowers.
Through the long trial, the lengthy procession, and in the intense sun, not a single person leaves The Jardín and in fact many more are somehow crowding in. A file of saints led by the Virgin Mary, make their way on a western route, and a file of saints led by the Jesus figure, rounds The Jardín to the east. At last the two processions seem to rejoin directly in front of the Parroquia. But suddenly everything stops and everyone falls completely silent. Virgin Mary, borne on the shoulders of the señoras, stands about one hundred feet before the Jesus figure. It was later explained to me that this is the only moment during the procession that the two figures face each other, and this is the first moment in which Mary sees her suffering son bearing the cross.
And then the most-unbelievable thing happened.
Everyone is standing perfectly still for what seems an eternity, and then the Christ figure raises its head to look into the eyes of the Mary figure. I did not imagine this because he did it again! Even though the surrounding crowd had seen this moment many times throughout their lives, they gasped and wept as if witnessing this anew. I of course was among the gasping. This special Christ figure is equipped with a mechanical device allowing the head to lift in a most-realistic way. This special effect is VERY effective.
You will have to take my word for it because I was too shocked to snap a photo. Or better yet, plan to witness this life-sized drama and the special-effect Jesus in person. Ah, the milagros of Mexico!
March 12, 2005