Empalaos Festival. Valverde de la Vera, Cáceres. Holy Week 2012

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A man attached to a cross, an 'Empalao' penitent, gets dressd by a relative before walking the 14 stations of the cross or 'Via Crucis', a depiction of the final hours of Jesus Christ. Empalaos make the steps of the 'Via Crucis', marking the Stations of the Cross, during the night of Maundy Thursday while bound by rope to a crucifix as an act of penance and to honour a promise made to the Empalaos Brotherhood and the Christ of Vera Cruz, in the town of Valverde de la Vera. The process of dressing the Empalao in the traditional costume is taken with great care, with the family and dressers paying attention to ensure that no harm is caused to the penitent and that they are aided in their recovery, including being massaged and rubbed with rosemary alcohol. Many Spanish towns and villages retain such rites and religious traditions, many passed down from medieval times, across the Easter weekend. (c) Pedro ARMESTRE