Dance of the Dead on Maundy Thursday

Dance of the Dead Credit: Dantzan flickr

The town of Verges in Catalonia is renowned for its incredible recreation of the last hours of Christ and its very dark Dance of Death on Maundy Thursday.

The event known as the La Processó de Verges which this year takes place on March 28 is based on an 18th Century poem by Catalan monk Antoni de Sant-Jeroni which incorporates all of the main events leading to the crucifixion.

Three part event

The performance is split into three parts, beginning at 5pm, 10pm and 12.30am respectively and a large number of residents take part in the re-enactments.

The first part sees Roman legionaries march along the town streets every hour and whilst very colourful, is repetitive but many visitors find it useful to arrive early in order to secure parking and then book themselves in to one of the limited number of restaurants in the town.

March of the legionaries
Credit: Dantzan flickr

Part two sees a theatrical performance on Plaça Major which begins at 10pm and tells the story of the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane and culminates in Pontius Pilate washing his hands of responsibility.

Admittance is by ticket only which be purchased in advance at the Koobin website at a cost of €22 per person.

Holy Cross Procession

Procession through the streets
Credit: Dantzan flickr

The third part of the evening sees the start of the Holy Cross Procession as a figure dressed as Christ drags a cross through the streets of the town and during the two hour procession, the three falls of Christ take place before he arrives at the church of Sant Julià, where the crucifixion is acted out.

Dragging the cross

Lights are dimmed and in some parts of the town, the only lighting is from snail shells cemented into walls which contain tiny amounts of oil and a wick which is lit.

Dance of the Dead

It is during the procession and at the crucifixion that the Dance of the Dead takes place with five ‘skeletons’, two adults and three children appearing to the solemn beat of spectral drummers.

Spectral drummers
Credit: Dantzan flickr

One of the adult actors holds a black banner, and the other one a scythe. Both the banner and the scythe handle contain two mottoes: in Catalan, Lo temps és breu, or Time is short; and, in Latin, Nemini parco, or I spare no one.

Two of the children carry plates filled with ash, while the third has a clock without hands to imply that anyone can turn to ash at any time and the entire performance ends at about 3am on Good Friday morning.

It is believed that only one other town in Spain that features the Easter Dance of the Dead and that is in Manresa also in Catalonia but their event is not as exhaustive as that of Verges, it takes place on Good Friday and features 10 skeletons.

So many unique villages to discover

There are so many unusual and indeed unique towns and villages in Spain all of which are worth visiting.

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Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page