A Living Passion in Balmaseda
It would perhaps be impossible to find a better definition of all that happens in the town of Balmaseda during that period of time we call “Semana Santa”, or “Holy Week”. And, should each one of these words have a beautiful ring to them when pronounced separately, then, together, they peal the following words out with unrivalled clarity and force: “Living Passion”.
Every year, the inhabitants of Balmaseda, jealously maintaining their tradition, enthusiastically throw themselves into the dramatic representation of this Passion Play dealing with the last moments in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The play starts with the scene of the Last Supper. Jesus warns his disciples that the end is nigh and that he has been betrayed by one of them. Later, he is arrested on the Mount of Olives and taken first before Caiaphas and then Pontius Pilate who, despite not finding him guilty of any crime, condemns him.
Judas, feeling alone and deeply affected, commits suicide whilst Jesus starts his journey along his Way of the Cross.
All the tension of his suffering reaches its climax on Mount Golgotha, where he is crucified and dies. As his body is being carried towards its final resting-place, so the passion play ends.
How many times have we heard this particular story? And when has it not moved us compassionately?
This time around, labourers, office-workers, civil servants or businessmen might well play the roles of Caiaphas and Judas.
We could find the man who plays the part of Pontius Pilot strolling the streets of the town at any other time of the year, but, during Holy Week, he becomes Pontius Pilate and he will make you feel ill-at-ease.
We will see non-professional actors and actresses whose passion extends further than the purely professionally felt; every-day scenarios we have never really seen, religion under your skin.
Such an attractive spectacle attracts thousands of people every year. People come to Balmaseda from the most remote and farthest flung corners of the land to watch the Living Passion Play that is enacted every Thursday and Friday of Holy Week.
The origins of the Living Passion Play date from the recent 19th Century, although the exact date is unknown. The tradition, however, can be traced back to the 15th century.