Deathly way to worship a saint

PEOPLE who have recently experienced a near-brush with death were carried in open coffins during last Saturday’s bizarre ceremony in north-west Spain.

The Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, held in Las Nieves, a small Galician town, is an annual pilgrimage for residents who have come close to dying, for whatever reason, and want to pay their respects to the town’s patron saint.

Family and friends, all dressed appropriately for funerals, carry the coffins of the “survivors” through the town’s streets to the Santa Marta de Ribarteme church.

Those taking part in the procession, led by the Santa Marta effigy, say prayers and thank the saint.

In Biblical terms she is Martha, sister of Mary Magdalene  and of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus.

Las Nieves more than doubles its 4,000 population each year as people pay their respects to the “Saint of Death” in a ceremony believed to have started in the 17th century.

Those who inhabit the coffins play dead, or, cheekily, peer down at their solemn bearers. And pilgrims without relatives to shoulder them must lug empty coffins along the streets and into the church.


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Posted by on Aug 3 2017. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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