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Good Friday

Compared to the Funziun di Giüdee, the Good Friday procession, which was also called Entierro (or “funeral”, “burial” of the Christ) in the past, is probably older and certainly more solemn. The moment of prayer was underscored by the fact that, every year, Good Friday was declared a day of mourning for the city. At our latitudes the term Entierro became part of the common lexicon after the Spanish rule in the neighbouring Lombardy between the 16th and 17th centuries, namely during the historical period that closely followed the Council of Trent, which marked the Catholic Church's reaction to the controversy generated by the protestant Reform.

In that which at the time was still not the Ticino Canton, the propaganda of Catholic orthodoxy and consolidation of the tradition among the faithful were preached with particular rigour, and monastic orders played a key role in this regard.

In Mendrisio this duty was entrusted to the Order of the Servants of Mary. Established in Florence in 1233 by some citizens of noble origins called the Seven Founding Saints, the order of the friars with the black robes of mourning that recalls the particular devotion of the Servants to the worship of the Virgin of Sorrows was established in the town in compliance with the request made by the Sanseverinos in 1451. They settled down in the Church of St. Sisinius at the Tower first, and later at the Pilgrim's House of St. John (former convent of the Humiliated) and the annexed Church of Our Lady of Graces. Only on two occasions did they leave Mendrisio. First for a brief period during which they moved to Capolago (from 1474 to 1477), and again in 1641, when the murder with a harquebus of the Emeritus Prior Alfonso della Torre by another friar within the convent walls caused the order to be expelled from the Magnifico Borgo. The Servants of Mary were allowed to return only three years later, in 1644, on condition that they would assist the sick and the poor by reopening the « ospitale » (pilgrim's house) inherited from the Humiliated), open an elementary school and provide evidence of religious and pastoral commitment to the benefit of the community.

This last task was the one that produced the most appreciated results. In the counter reformist atmosphere of the latter half of 1600, the Servants introduced the worship of the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows to Mendrisio and the practice of the Septenary. They organised the Good Friday procession, underscoring rigorous observance of the official stands of the Catholic Church in terms of themes, contents and performance of the same. Under the mellow light of the “transparents” and of the lamps, the nighttime procession in memory of a past in which the funeral services were all held at dusk, represents the peak of the Holy Week in Mendrisio.