U Catenacciu 2017: an evocative Easter tradition of Corsica
- Published: 5 April 2017
- Category: Events
It is one of the most ancient and evocative Easter traditions of Corsica. And, at the same time, you also have the chance to visit one of the most beautiful villages of the island. We’re talking about U Catenacciu. An authentic ritual that, even in 2017, will be repeated in the village of Sartène, in southern Corsica.
The origin of this tradition is a story that has become legend. According to it, the Red Penitent, in ancient times, was a person who committed unspeakable crimes: they were bandits, thieves, and murderers. During Easter, a criminal wore that habit to be cleansed of his sins.
U Catenacciu is a procession of Franciscan origin. It mixes religious elements with Aragonese penitential practices of the Corsican brotherhoods of flagellants during the Sixteenth century.
It will take place on Holy Friday, April 14th. U Catenacciu, literally, means “the one who brings chains”. To assume the role of the Red Penitent, a person must wait 10 or 15 years. Only the priest knows the identity of the Red Penitent.
In the evening of Holy Friday, when the doors of the church of Sartène are opened, a hooded man, completely dressed in red and with the faces covered, comes out. He walks barefoot, with chains at his feet, and dragging a heavy cross. It is accompanied by a procession of the faithful.
The Red Penitent drags the cross on for about two kilometers along the streets of Sartène. He has to fall three times, just as Christ during his Passion. A second penitent, always with his face covered, but this time dressed in white, holds the other part of the cross: the White Penitent is Simon of Cyrene.
How to get there
The main tourist port near Sartène is Bonifacio (one of the most important where ferries to Corsica dock). To get there, you just have to take the T40 road towards north and follow the road signs to Sartène. The journey by car takes about one hour.
If you have decided to spend Easter 2017 in Corsica, U Catenacciu will enrich the journey.
Image source: Di Tiresa – Opera propria, Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6495428