Semana Santa is an old tradition in the Catholic Church and Larantuka Town which is located in the eastern part of Flores Island inherited this tradition from portuguese missionary and carried out from generation to generation for 5 centuries and last until now. This tradition is carried out every year at Easter (reminiscing the miserable story of Jesus Christ), This celebration has become a permanent agenda to the Government of the East Flores Regency in attracting tourists, especially religious tourism,every year before Easter the city of Larantuka is crowded with visitors(Local and Foreign) to witness this holy procession.
Semana Santa Procession
Here are some of the Stages of the Semana Santa Holy Procession:
Rabu Trewa (Wednesday fettered)
In the Semana Santa Tradition in Larantuka,its starting on Wednesday (1 day before Holy Thursday) or known as”Rabu Trewa”( Wednesday fettered) where pilgrims and people gather and pray to remember the Lord Jesus who was betrayed by His Disciple Yudas Iscariot. When praying, most people sing the lamentations of the Psalms in Latin.At 3:00 p.m. the congregation tapped the sound in tandem all over Larantuka this is a marker when entering the period of mourning,after that anyone is not allowed to sound something or work,so Larantuka transforms into a holy city and mourns.
White Thursday/Holy Thursday
During the Holy Thursday there is a procession called a “Muda Tuan”in the Chapel of “Tuan Ma”( The Virgin Mary) this procession is the opening of a chest which is closed for a year by the officer called “Conferia” (a special organization in the Church that has been sworn in oath).After being removed from the chest,the statue of Tuan Ma was cleaned and bathed then shrouded in a sign of mourning in the form of black, purple or blue velvet robes. At that time Pilgrims and people prayed in a quiet and sacral atmosphere and adore to the God by “Cium Kaki” on a number of Spiritual Sites like The Chapel of Tuan Ma (The Virgin Mary),The Chapel of Tuan Ana(Lord Jesus),The Chapel of Tuan Meninu, as a form of prayer to God through the intercession of the Virgin Mary (Per Mariam ad Jesum). The ceremony was held in the afternoon called ”Tikam Turo” by placing candles on the left and right along the route of Good Friday Process by”Mardomu” people / families who volunteered according to their oath to serve God. In the evening a Eucharistic celebration is held to commemorate the Last Supper of Lord Jesus with His Disciples.
Good Friday as the main ceremony of Semana Santa procession to commemorate the Death of the Lord Jesus which begins with maritime procession by carrying the statue of “Tuan Maninu”(Lord Jesus) use a boat against the current across the Gonzalo strait and ends at Kuce Beach and place It at The Chapel of “Pohon Sirih” in front of Raja Larantuka Palace. The statue of Tuan Ma was paraded from His Chapel to the Cathedral Church,at 15.00 p.m The statue of Tuan Missericordia was also paraded from his Chapel in Pantai Besar to Kuce Beach. In this ritual, the procession will surround the City of Larantuka by stopping at eight stops (Armida):
- Armida Missericordia
- Armida Tuan Maninu
- Armida St.Philipus
- Armida Tuan Trewa
- Armida Pantekebi
- Armida St.Antonius
- Armida Kuce
- Armida Desa Lohayong
Generally in the tradition of the modern Catholic Church, one day after Good Friday is called Holy Saturday but in Semana Santa tradition called”Sabtu Alleluya” where the peoples and pilgrims parade back the Statue of Tuan Ma and Tuan Ana from Cathedral Church to Their own Chapel. Even so with the Statue of Tuan Missericordia and Tuan Maninu paraded back to Their own Chapel.
On Easter Sunday a Eucharistic celebration is held in evey Church and Chapel, and then the Statue of “Bunda Maria” is paraded to “Pantekebis Chapel”.As the closing ceremony the Semana Santa called “Sera Punto Dama” from the old Mardomu (Tuan Ma and Tuan Ana) to the new ones. The new “Mardomu” will serve for 1 year until the next Semana Santa Procession.
The History of Semana Santa Tradition
The Semana Santa tradition in Larantuka, is a tradition of the old Catholic Church which was introduced by the Portuguese Missionaries since 500 years ago.The story begins when the statue of “Bunda Maria Bersedih”(Holy Mary) was discovered by the People of Larantuka in1510, The statue is thought to have originated from a shipwrecked Portuguese or Spanish ship. Then the statue was handed over to King the of Larantuka and placed in Korke(The Traditional House of Resiona Tribe),this discovery shocked the residents of Larantuka at that time and consider it’s a sacred object (Catholicism has not entered Larantuka at that time).
In 1561 Portuguese Missionaries began to spread Catholicism starting from Solor then arriving at Larantuka. A missionary named Father Manuel de Chagas met with a King of Larantuka and explain about the statue of “Tuan Ma” what they worship is the mother of Mary; the Holy Mother of Mary has a Son named Lord Jesus the Savior.
Raja Larantuka was baptized to be Catholic
Since that time Catholicism began to be spread throughout the Larantuka region and received by the local community and In 1650 Raja Larantuka Ola Adobala was baptized to be Catholic and surrender his kingdom to the Holy Mary. In 1665 Raja Ola Adobala’s son, King Don Gaspar I began to parade the Statue of Mary around Larantuka and became the forerunner of the Semana Santa procession until now.Then King Don Lorenzo gave the title the Holy Mary as the highest King of the Larantuka People and became the Queen of Protector of the City,in Portuguese it is called the City of Reinha.
Since then the City of Larantuka has become a milestone in the history of Catholic civilization on the island of Flores.Then the missionaries went to Central and western Flores to spread Catholicism as well. Currently the number of followers of the Catholic religion on Flores Island reaches 85% of the total population which is divided into 211 Parish Churches and 4 dioceses namely:
- Ende Archdiocese,
- Ruteng Diocese,
- Maumere Diocese,and
- Larantuka Diocese.