Despite nonstop rain, hundreds of people gathered Friday in Laurel Park for the Stations of the Cross performed by Saint Michael Catholic Church.
Stations of the Cross is a Roman Catholic ceremony in which the final hours of Jesus’ life are depicted.
The re-enactment represents the various actions that led to the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus. “We’ve held our Stations of the Cross production at Laurel Park for the past six years,” said Lorena Marceleno, production coordinator. “We started having it here because there are so many people in the community who want to see the play, but our church is too small to hold them all.”
Although Stations of the Cross ceremonies are traditional in the Catholic church, Friday’s portrayal was a bit unique in that it was done almost entirely in Spanish.
With 60 costumed actors, hand-painted sets and live animals, Friday’s production was quite a sight.
The solemn crowd of more than 300 onlookers watched as actors portrayed Jesus being beaten as he carries the cross on which he will later be crucified.
“This rain — it’s nothing. The important thing is that we remember how Jesus suffered and died for us,” said Alejandra Esteban, a Gainesville resident. “I brought my children because this helps make his suffering seem more real for them, and it helps them understand the reason behind Easter better.”
Each of the 14 stations represents a specific step in Jesus’ final journey and is marked with a special prayer.
The first station represents when Jesus was sentenced to death by Pilate, and the last one represents Jesus’ body being placed in the Holy Sepulchre.
“I didn’t expect to cry when I saw them beating Jesus,” Juana Garcia said. “I know it’s just a play, and they are just acting, but it seemed so real. It just makes you realize how much Jesus suffered before he died.”