As I arrived to Milam Park on Friday morning, I overheard a father tell his son: “If it gets too intense you can come here to the playground okay?”
The Passion of Jesus, an annual production presented by San Fernando Cathedral and participating Catholic groups, reenacts the crucifixion and the events leading up to the torturous event. The dramatic ceremony seems to be a rite of passage for local Catholics, there were many grandparents who brought their grandchildren to view this extremely realistic and raw performance.
I came across Amelio Castillo as he hoisted his granddaughter, Naveah, on his shoulder so she could grab a high-angle view of the lashing of Jesus Christ. Castillo first experienced the performance last year and returned this year with his granddaughter in tow, all the way from Victoria, Texas.
“This is her first time here,” Castillo said. “I wanted to teach her what Jesus went through for our sins, something she’ll hopefully teach her kids and grandkids one day.”
Play attendees were surprised to see smoke come from the basement of the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, just across the street from Milam Park, around 11 a.m. Several departments and construction workers were evacuated, but no one was hurt. The San Antonio Fire Department later reported that the smoke was caused by construction grinding in a non-patient area.
The play continued as hundreds of spectators followed the reenactment down Santa Rosa Street, Houston Street, and finally North Main, to arrive at Main Plaza and San Fernando Cathedral where the crucifixion took place. Spectators jockeyed for the best position – standing atop tables, benches, flowerpots, and fire hydrants. Cell phones, selfie sticks, and pocket cameras were out in full force to grab a shot of Jesus being hoisted onto the wooden cross. Perhaps the photographs serve as a reminder for visitors, or an educational tool for younger members of the family.
*Top Image:The cross is carried down Houston Street as Roman soldiers whip and batter Jesus. Photo by Scott Ball.