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La Desolata

La Desolata is a female religious procession going on the Holy Week, the day after Jesus Christ's death. Women are the only presence since Jesus died. First they surround pained Mary at the bottom of the cross, the day after they walk to the Holy grave to share Mary's desolation, and this is what this ritual procession is about.

We are in Canosa di Puglia, on southern Italy. The choir of 380 women walks around the village for 3 hours (from 09:00am until 12:00am) singing the "Stabat Mater", a desolation prayer written by Jacopone da Todi on 13th century. Women of different ages walk holding their arms, to support each other while walking on the uphill narrow roads under the sun. To be part of the choir is often a family tradition to hand down from mother to daughter since generations.

By the time the statue of Maria Desolata leaves the church of San Francesco and Biagio, carried on shoulders man, women cover their head and face with a black veil, until the statue makes her return into church 3 hours later.

Thousand of people are attracted, even from abroad, to watch this impressive black spot moving, and to listen to the his song of screaming pain, breaking the silent mourning.

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