For the first time since 2019, the Passion of the Christ re-enactment will take place downtown on Good Friday, continuing a tradition of more than 30 years.

The re-enactment of Jesus’ journey to the cross will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Milam Park with a bilingual prayer service. From there, about 60 actors will walk north on Santa Rosa Street, across Travis Street, down North Flores Street to Dolorosa Street, and end at the cathedral in Main Plaza. The crucifixion will be staged in front of the cathedral at noon. The event hasn’t been held the past two years because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another local Easter week tradition — camping in city parks — also has returned after a pandemic pause. From 11 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Sunday, overnight camping will be allowed at Brackenridge, J Street, McAllister, Roosevelt, San Pedro Springs, O.P. Schnabel, Southside Lions and Woodlawn Lake parks.

The Passion of the Christ re-enactment features actors portraying Jesus, Mary, Roman soldiers and others, and is meant to be an intense and even graphic portrayal of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Edgar Holguin, director of the dramatization, said parents should decide whether their children should watch. But the dual purpose of the play is for people to experience first-hand what Jesus endured and bring people back to church. 

“A lot of people [stopped going to church] two years ago, and what was important two years ago is not important now,” Holguin said. “Hopefully this will open up their hearts and remind them, at least, why we’re in church. And for the reason they left, to forget it and to come back.” 

San Fernando Cathedral parishioners John Austin, who last played the role of Jesus nine years ago, and Loreily Ortiz, who played Mary in 2019, will return to their roles Friday. Austin will be carrying a 100-pound cross in a procession that takes two hours.

“After COVID-19 … we just want to hit everybody where … they can at least feel a little part of what Jesus went through,” said Austin. 

After the re-enactment of the crucifixion, Father Carlos Velázquez will lead a service at 1 p.m. inside the cathedral.

“It [the re-enactment] can transform their lives, with the hope that we could become more comprehensive, more merciful, more adaptable and more proactive,” he said.

Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.