Holy Week and Easter


In Celanova we can experience the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter where the religious images of the Church of the Monastery of Celanova play a leading role.

They are the most important Christian religious feasts of the liturgical year: the Passion, Death and Resurection of Jesus of Nazareth is commemorated.

The dates on wich Holy Week and Easter fall vary from year to year:

  • Forty days before Easter Sunday (excluding sundays) is when the Lenten Season starts – Ash Wednesday is the first day -, a period of penitence, reflection and fast – just as Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert-, which puts an end to Carnival and prepares Christians for Holy Week.
  • Holy Week, the last week of the Lenten Season, starts with Palm Sunday and comes to end on Holy Saturday: it’s the week immediatly predecing Easter Sunday.
  • Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) is the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, a day between March 22nd and April 25th.



  • Palm Sunday
    This day commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem: Jesus descends from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people placed palms on the ground in front of him.
    Blessing of Palm Leaves” (12:00 am) in “Praza do Millo” (Corn Square): children and adults take their palm leaves to be blessed.
    Procession”: the people walks towards the Monastery’s church carrying the blessed palm leaves.
    Mass: There’s a mass in the Monastery’s church including readings on the Passion of Christ.


  • Maundy Thursday
    This day commemorates the Last Supper, where Christ lays out the model for the Eucharist: giving his disciples bread and wine, he told them it was his body and blood, and commanded them to do it in his memory.
    Liturgical Performance”:

    • Celelebrating the Last Supper.
    • Transfer of Holy One to the Monument (Crucifixion Altar) (8:15pm)

Vigil and adoration of the Monument”: (9:15pm)
Vigil and Night Veneration” before the Holy One (11:00-12:00pm) A group of worshippers sing and pray.

  • Good Friday
    This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death.
    The Monastery’s church opens at 9 am and the worshipping before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament continues.
    “Passion Play”: (12:00 am) in the Monastery’s church there’s a dramatic presentation depicting the life of Christ from the Last Supper until his crucifixion.
    Liturgical Service in Four Acts: Reading of the Passion, Veneration of the Cross, Communion, Universal Prayer”: (6:00pm)
    Crucifixion”: (7:15 pm): Christ is placed on the Cross
    Sermon of the Seven Words”: (7:45 pm) Seven Last Words from the Cross are the seven last phrases that Jesus pronounced during his crucifixion before he died.
    Act of Unnailing Christ from the Cross and the Transfer of his Lying Body to the Urn”: (8:00 pm) 
    “Procession of the Holy Burial”: (8:30 pm) During the procesison one can see the “pasos” – sculptures or group of sculptures that depict scenes of the Passion of Christ, adorned with flowers and candles – carried by members of the “cofradías” (confraternities / brotherhoods), an association of medieval origin.
    The members of the “cofradías” wear a tunic and on their heads they wear a “capirote” – a conical pointy hat that penitents wore in the Middle Ages.
    music band plays “processional marches” and a group of men dressed as the Roman soldiers that crucified Christ, accompany the procession.
    Apart from the “paso” of the “Infant Jesus of Prague” there also the ones that correspond to the four images that the rest of the year are to be found in altars of the Monastery’s church:

    • Ecce Homo:
      “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the man”) is how Pontius Pilate introduced Jesus to the crowd after having been scourged. Since it was the eve of Passover, Pilate allowed the people to decide which prisoner was to be freed: Barabbas or Jesus. The people freed the former. Pilate washed his hands to show that he didn’t want anything to do with this decision.
    • Crucifixion
      Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers at Cavalry or Mount Golgotha in the outskirts of Jerusalem. Although there are diferent versions as to who witnessed his crucifixion (his mother – the Virgin Mary-, Mary Magdalene, Salome – the mother of Saint James the Greater and John – and a disciple, probably her son, John), in this group of sculptures only the Virgin Mary and John are depicted.
    • Urn with Lying Christ
      It depicts the death of Christ.
    • Our Lady of Sorrows
      It’s the depiction of the mother of Jesus that is crying over the death of her son.

If weather is nice, the procession takes place throughout the historic center of Celanova, otherwise, it takes place around the Cloister of Processions of the Monastery of Celanova.

Confraternity of the Infant Jesus of Prague

Confraternity of the Ecce Homo

Confraternity of Jesus Crucified

Confraternity of the Dead Christ

Confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows

Music Band

  • Holy Saturday
    In memory of Christ’s death the only liturgical celebration that day is:

Easter Vigil, Blessing of the Fire, Blessing of the Paschal Candle, Blessing of the Water”: (7:00 pm)

Mass of Resurrection”: it commemorates the resurrection of Christ.


  • Easter Sunday
    This day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter Sunday Mass”: (12:30 am)

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