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Thousands Gather at Annual Pilsen Good Friday Procession

By Kalyn Belsha in News on Apr 11, 2009 9:00PM

Photo by Bruce Hollett via SOBS Chicago Local
More than 2,000 participants flanked the streets of Pilsen yesterday to re-enact the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. The predominantly Mexican community walks in the "Via Crucis" or "Way of the Cross" each year on Good Friday.

The procession recreates 14 different "stations" leading up to the crucifixion, from the Last Supper to the judgment of Pilate to Jesus' burial. The tradition originated after the Crusades, when pilgrims could no longer visit the sites associated with the death of Jesus and decided to commemorate the event in other locations.

While the procession takes place all over the world, from Jerusalem to Paris, the Chicago tradition has been in existence for 30 years and is coordinated by eight Catholic parishes in Pilsen. This year's participants were asked to reflect not only on the suffering of Jesus, but the modern-day suffering of immigrants, as well.

Local residents played characters such as Roman soldiers, weeping women and Jesus himself, as each of the events was described through a microphone. This year, 26-year-old city worker Arturo Raigosa portrayed Jesus dragging a wooden cross down 18th Street and was "nailed" to a cross in Harrison Park. The event concluded at St. Adalbert's Church on 17th Street, where Cardinal George greeted participants.

Bishop John Manz of the Chicago Archdiocese told WBBM he noticed yesterday's crowd was larger than in previous years, in part because of the recession.

When asked about the comfort the procession can provide, Raigosa said "Honestly, just everybody turns to Jesus, in keeping the faith. That's all they have sometimes." [Tribune, WBEZ and WBBM]

To view a video of yesterday's procession, via the Chicago Tribune, click here.

Slideshows from the 2009 event in Pilsen are available via WBEZ here, and the Tribune, here.

A slideshow from the Pilsen, Jerusalem and Paris processions is available via UPI, here.

Photo by Bruce Hollett via SOBS Chicago Local