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Good Friday passion play brings crucifixion to life
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Good Friday passion play brings crucifixion to life

Hundreds fill St. Augustine's for Viacrucis

  • Fr. Robert Elias Barcelos, playing Jesus, drags a wooden cross through the street. The procession often stopped for whippings and ridicule from the guards and crowd.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comFr. Robert Elias Barcelos, playing Jesus, drags a wooden cross through the street. The procession often stopped for whippings and ridicule from the guards and crowd.
  • A parishoner dressed as Pontius Pilate addresses the crowd.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comA parishoner dressed as Pontius Pilate addresses the crowd.
  • Fr. Robert Elias Barcelos, the pastor of St. Margaret Mary's Church, played the role of Jesus throughout the reenactment. He was whipped and splattered with fake blood.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comFr. Robert Elias Barcelos, the pastor of St. Margaret Mary's Church, played the role of Jesus throughout the reenactment. He was whipped and splattered with fake blood.
  • Parishoners dressed as Roman guards whip Jesus with yarn whips dipped in red liquid.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comParishoners dressed as Roman guards whip Jesus with yarn whips dipped in red liquid.
  • A parishioner prepares to place a crown of thorns on Jesus's head.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comA parishioner prepares to place a crown of thorns on Jesus's head.
  • The Roman guards laugh as they torture the man playing Jesus.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe Roman guards laugh as they torture the man playing Jesus.
  • The procession traveled from St. Cosme Chapel on Simpson Street to St. Augustine's.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe procession traveled from St. Cosme Chapel on Simpson Street to St. Augustine's.
  • A member of the crowd points to Jesus and shouts 'crucíficalo!' As the procession continued, an increasing number instead shouted, 'Es innocente!'
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comA member of the crowd points to Jesus and shouts 'crucíficalo!' As the procession continued, an increasing number instead shouted, 'Es innocente!'
  • Braulio Moreno, 37, and his 5-year-old son, Jesus, watch the procession from the sidewalk along Convent Avenue.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comBraulio Moreno, 37, and his 5-year-old son, Jesus, watch the procession from the sidewalk along Convent Avenue.
  • The crown of thorns is knocked to the ground as Jesus is tormented by the guards.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe crown of thorns is knocked to the ground as Jesus is tormented by the guards.
  • Emotional members of the reenactment reach out to Jesus as they approach St. Augustine's.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comEmotional members of the reenactment reach out to Jesus as they approach St. Augustine's.
  • A guard raises his whip to strike Jesus before they reach the church courtyard.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comA guard raises his whip to strike Jesus before they reach the church courtyard.
  • Jesus 'hangs' from the cross as the Roman guards address the crowd.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comJesus 'hangs' from the cross as the Roman guards address the crowd.
  • The courtyard of St. Augustine's was filled with onlookers before the final crucifixion scene.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe courtyard of St. Augustine's was filled with onlookers before the final crucifixion scene.
  • The guards pretended to drive nails into Jesus's hands and feet before raising the cross.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe guards pretended to drive nails into Jesus's hands and feet before raising the cross.
  • Raising the cross was a group effort. Jesus's hands were secured to the wood beams with rope, not nails, though.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comRaising the cross was a group effort. Jesus's hands were secured to the wood beams with rope, not nails, though.
  • Spectators of all ages watch the crucifixion play out on the stage.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comSpectators of all ages watch the crucifixion play out on the stage.
  • The mourners sobbed audibly throughout the passion play.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comThe mourners sobbed audibly throughout the passion play.
  • Mary approaches the feet of Jesus after he is deemed to be dead.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comMary approaches the feet of Jesus after he is deemed to be dead.
  • Mary places her hand on the (faux-)bloodied body of Jesus after he is removed from the cross.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comMary places her hand on the (faux-)bloodied body of Jesus after he is removed from the cross.
  • Guards carry Jesus through St. Augustine's.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comGuards carry Jesus through St. Augustine's.
  • An actress portraying Mary cries at the side of Jesus at the front of St. Augustine's.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comAn actress portraying Mary cries at the side of Jesus at the front of St. Augustine's.
  • A girls watches as they place Jesus's sheet wrapped body on the stage.
    Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.comA girls watches as they place Jesus's sheet wrapped body on the stage.

A whip snapped across the man’s back and he yelped in anguish. The man’s face was haggard and bloodied as his tormentors pressed a crown of thorns onto his head. 

The crowd, many in leather sandals and tunics, cried out “crucíficalo!” (crucify him). Somewhere in the fray, a group of women sobbed.

The jeering crowd were all Catholic parishioners in costume for the annual Passion of Good Friday put on annually by St. Augustine’s Cathedral. The haggard man was Fr. Robert Barcelos of St. Margaret Mary's Church. The scenes leading to Jesus’s crucifixion are reenacted every year in a passion play on the Friday before Easter.

More than 800 people walked through downtown Tucson from the St. Cosme Chapel on Simpson Street to St. Augustine's on South Stone to observe and partake in “El Viacrucis,” the Stations of the Cross.

“I brought my children in order for them to learn more about what is the Holy Week and El Viacrucis,” said Braulio Moreno, 37, in Spanish.

He stood along Convent Avenue with his 5-year-old son, Jesus, to watch the procession go by.

Ana Villa also came with her family, including her 1-year-old son, Jayden, for the first time. She attends St. Margaret’s Church on North Grande Avenue, but heard about the event from her mother.

“It was just very real. It’s kind of sad to see what He went through for us,” Villa said.

This “realness” is what the church hopes to convey through the annual event. Bishop Gerald Kicanas walked alongside the procession with other spectators and clergy members.

“It’s a very visual picture of the Lord’s suffering,” Kicanas said,“It’s one thing to read, it’s another to see it enacted.”

A Good Friday Mass at St. Augustine's followed the re-enactment. Every pew was filled, as were a number of folding chairs. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Barcelos as a parishoner.


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