Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno: El Salvador's largest confraternity organizes Holy Week

  • Members of the Hermandad in Izalco, El Salvador, prepare the image of Christ with a cross made with Corozo palms, on the morning of Holy Thursday. The image will be carried in the Procesion de los Cristos. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • This image of Christ is featured in the Procesion de los Cristos which starts at 2:30 p.m. on Holy Thursday and ends at 6:30 a.m. Good Friday. Credit: Josue Parada / El Salvador
  • Parishioners prepare an image of Christ with a cross made with Corozo palms for the Holy Thursday procession. Credit: Josue Parada / El Salvador
  • On Holy Thursday in Izalco, the procession begins its way through the streets. The statue of the Nazareno can be rotated to face the homes of families along the route. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • At the Holy week procession in Izalco, the Nazareno is followed by statues including, in order, the Virgin Dolorosa, Saint John, Mary Magdalene, and Veronica, who wiped the face of Jesus when he went to the Cross. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • At 6 p.m. on Holy Thursday, the procession reaches the threshold of Our Lady of Sorrows. Heavy rains delay the procession, but only children are allowed to shelter from the rains. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • The statue of Jesús Nazareno is brought out annually for the huge procession in Izalco. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • Bearers carry the statue of Jesús Nazareno in Izalco. The procession lasts at least 15 hours, right through the night. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • At dawn on Good Friday, a man is helped to crawl on his knees, blindfolded, for the final block on the route to the Nazareno's chapel, as an act of penance or supplication. Photo credit: Josue Parada/El Salvador
  • Just outside the Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños, this mural uses the towering volcano above the town to locate the festivities, and an image of the Nazareno statue that is featured in their Holy Week processions. Izalco, El Salvador.
    Just outside the Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños, this mural uses the towering volcano above the town to locate the festivities, and an image of the Nazareno statue that is featured in their Holy Week processions.
  • The large complex of the Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños, one of the largest of the cofradias: Unlike other cofradias, it has a special complex, rather than being housed in an individual's home. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Interior chapel, Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños. Izalco, El Salvador
  • Interior chapel, Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños: At the center is the statue venerated in Holy Week processions. To the right is Our Lady of Sorrows, with a sword piercing her heart. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Women in the confraternity, Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños, bake sweet rolls and cooking lunch for other groups who are preparing for Holy Week. The complex is busy for months before Easter preparing for Holy Week festivities. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Huge copper kettles will be used to cook for all the participants who come to the Holy Week events of the Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Sweet rolls baked in the outer courtyard kitchen of Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños, are offered as a gift for another confraternity's festivities. The complex is busy for months before Easter preparing for Holy Week festivities. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Young men in the brass marching band take a break from practice, Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños. The complex is busy for months before Easter preparing for Holy Week festivities. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Cleanup area for the kitchen (rear, under roof) is a huge open air area to cook for the thousands of people who will be fed at the Holy Week commemorations and processions. Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno de Niños. Izalco, El Salvador

The Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno is the largest confraternity, taking the leading role in Lenten and Holy Week commemorations. Some locals make a distinction between a “brotherhood,” like this one, which has 700 members who pay to have the privilege of carrying the statue in the procession, and a cofradía, which is smaller and which is more open to anyone who wants to participate. Others say the only real difference is size.

The HJN processions pass throughout the streets of the city, both in the barrio and between the town’s two main churches. A brass band provides mournful music at many of the events, though by Friday the procession is silent. The first procession is on the Tuesday of Carnaval, when the image of Jesus is brought to the house of a confraternity member for the start of lent. For the 40 days of lent, the Nazareno moves all over the barrio in different processions.

The largest Holy Week procession begins in the early afternoon on Holy Thursday, and lasts through the night. The procession features 13 platforms or carrying altars that are supported on the shoulders of members of the hermandad. Carrying the statues is considered an honor, and all carriers, along with other members of the procession, are dressed in costumes that designate their role and membership. The main statue in the procession is the Nazareno, a life-size image of Christ that belongs to the hermandad and is housed year round in its chapel. It is carried on a beautifully carved platform, covered by a baldachin that that has lighting to show the statue during the nighttime processions. Forty men at a time carry this statue.

The Nazareno carries a large crucifix, and is designed so that it can be maneuvered to face the left or the right side of the float. Families who contribute to the celebration can arrange to have the image of the Nazareno turned to face their house as the procession moves by.

Twelve other crucifixes, each belonging to a different cofradía from Izalco, are carried in the procession. These crucifixes are much smaller, are surrounded by palm branches, and are each carried by a single individual.

The platforms in the procession also feature other statues belonging to the Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno. Visit the HJN blog for more images and videos of the procession from the brotherhood. Watch video of the procession during the night and as it returns to the chapel at sunrise, almost 18 hours after its start.

The Hermandad de Jesús Nazareno is not the sole sponsor of Holy Week events. View a few images from other events.

Learn More: 

Footnotes