Experience the latest addition to the UNESCO world heritage list: the Processions in Mendrisio
Enjoy the historical Easter processions of Mendrisio – a truly impressive tradition. In December 2019, the UNESCO added the processions to its intangible cultural heritage list. They take place every year on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which this year fall on 9 and 10 April. Onlookers flood from far and wide to see Jesus carrying the cross through the town, which the locals proudly refer to as magnifico borgo (magnificent place). Against a backdrop of the historic buildings with their painted façades and the mediaeval and baroque churches, you might feel watching the proceedings that you’ve somehow been transported back in time. Without a doubt, the highlight is the La Funziun di Giüdee procession which takes place at sundown on Maundy Thursday, involves 270 performers and celebrates Christ’s Way of the Cross. The biblical characters taking part in the procession all come from the area, and wear costumes acquired from La Scala in Milan in 1989. They include warriors of the High Council, Longinus, Saint Veronica, the Three Marys, the Disciples, the two thieves, the Roman soldiers playing dice, Pontius Pilate, King Herod, the High Priest and other historical figures. The Good Friday procession, on the other hand, has a much more liturgical, religious character dating back to the Middle Ages. 700 participants carry ceremonial objects through the streets accompanied by a marching band. A firm fixture of the Easter processions are the breathtaking trasparenti lanterns, displayed throughout the Holy Week in the old town of Mendrisio. The unusual manufacturing technique used to make them, and the passing down of knowledge from generation to generation, were the main reasons for the UNESCO decision. They can also be viewed at other times of the year in the Casa Croci in Mendrisio.