Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good Friday on Grace Street

It should be clear to anyone who comes here that this is most certainly not a news site. Anyone here looking for up-to-the-minute opinions on the issues of the day would be deeply disappointed, and judging from my statistics, this conjecture is well grounded in the evidence before me!

However, occasionally, I manage to submit stories that aren't completely stale.

Grace Street comes by its name easily, perhaps too easily. It begins at Dundas Street, with this church on its corner, across the street from St. John the Baptist, a Spanish language congregation.

And halfway up the street, before on has encountered another set of lights, comes this church, St. Francis of Assisi, our parade patrons. But before St. Francis, there's a French language school, named after a very Catholic Prime Minister.

Just to make things more confusing, the original St. Francis was what is now St. Agnes!

So we have not even gone a city block, and our space has already been delimited by the history of the people who have lived here. And there is no fuller expression of this history than the Good Friday procession which begins and ends here on Grace Street.

So let us now see these people, our people, by virtue of our (new) location as well as the beautiful flexibility of Canadian identity.

You see the flags. Right from the start, the procession informs its observers that this will be an example of the Word in the world. The flags of Canada and Ontario alongside the flags of Portugal and...any ideas? I am not sure to whom the flags with the bird belongs! [update, courtesy of a commenter: It's the Azores!]

But before anyone begins to move, one hears something, the first of our three bands, and they will remind us that this is not a parade, as the word slips so easily from the tongue, but a procession.

So let the procession begin. I will let these images speak for themselves, from that sunny, yet strangely bleak Good Friday. If you want an explanation of the event, just go here.

Now who said this wasn't a parade? There's cotton candy to be had! There were also vendors selling roasted chestnuts and popcorn, and I do not know where they are the rest of the year, because this is the only time I ever see them!

Here is one of our numerous live-action Jesuses. A tough job, especially given this year the crowd seemed to be significantly larger than last year. Hard to keep serious and solemn when small children are yelling at you to GO! because the procession has ground to a halt for some reason, perhaps because someone up ahead has lost their shoe...

Yes, right below you is the head of John the Baptist...not sure why Herod would be carrying it around, but...

Here comes the big show:

This is the one that makes all the papers - it's the scene where the soldiers beat Jesus up. When I came last year, this was the hardest one to take a decent picture of, mainly because there was a swarm of camera and video crews, capturing every blow and throaty scream of the soldier.

I suppose the media likes this because it "reminds us of His sacrifice", but I suspect we all know better! Mel Gibson anyone?

I actually tried to catch them smiling - an sneeze from the crowd had brought laughter to the beaten Jesus and the soldiers, but I was too slow off the draw!

And here we have a copy of the Image of Edessa, or the Turin Shroud, or...

From here on in, no more live Jesus - I suppose its just too graphic, so instead we're confronted with statues, pulled along by men in uniforms. (Again, I would love to find out what uniforms they're wearing!)

Another band - an Intermezzo:

Throughout all this, there are women singing, speaking the Ave Maria...

Those soldiers again:

And here are our local politicians, doing their duty for the greater good - reelection! No, I shouldn't be so cynical...

And here are our Friars! I wish I had managed to get some good pictures of their chausubles, as they were magnificent!

The Sorrowful Mother with her children.

This outfit, to me, symbolizes more than anything else the gulf between Catholicism and Protestantism...

The final band.

And now, you may join. The faithful walk behind the procession until it arrives back at the church. These people have joined right from the start!

However, and just as at the beginning, the State bookmarks the procession...this is the real end of the show.

Walking away...

Walking away.

Happy Easter. I'm heading off now to celebrate a traditionally, with a solemn viewing of Norman Jewison's Jesus Christ Superstar.

1 comment:

Matt said...

The flag with the eagle and the stars is from the Azores Islands. They're an Autonomous Region of Portugal, which I guess means they sport their own flag at events like this.

Excellent post! Grace street is an interesting little pocket of Toronto - in Little Portugal, but not far from Little Korea and one of two Little Italies...