Jackowski A. (red.), 1995, Zeszyt wielotematyczny, Peregrinus Cracoviensis, z.1.
Język publikacji: polski
"Peregrinus...Mundialis?... Polonus?... Cracoviensis?..."
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"Memento homo mori": The Passion Ritual of the Confraternity of the "Good Death" at the Franciscan Church in Cracow
Summary: The Archconfraternity of Our Lord's Passion, founded in 1595 and existing until today in Cracow, has not been of interest to ethnologists until now. Historians likewise did not show due interest in the subject. The first and only monograph on the Archconfraternity was written by the Franciscan Father Antoni Zwiercan and appeared in 1983, but it is incomplete, as it gives an account only of the first two centuries of the Archconfraternity's existence. The intensive development of religious brotherhoods at the end of the XVI and the beginning of the XVII centuries was connected with the reform undertaken in the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent. The brotherhoods became one of the forms of renewal of Catholicism in Poland after the Reformation. One of the basic aims of the Archconfraternity of Our Lord's Passion was to disseminate religious devotion, uproot heresy, and to convert unbelievers and apostates to the Catholic faith. The post-Tridentine renewal was connected with mediaeval religious life and especially with Christocentric currents and the so-called 'devotio moderna'. Mediaeval Christological considerations developed in many directions and in the XIII century finally settled on a religious contemplation of the mysteries of Christ's life on earth, perceived as the 'Vir dolorum pauper et patiens'. The development of the cult of His Mother was linked with the expansion of the cult of Christ the Man. At this time, various types of services took form, whose content was the life Jesus, His Mother, and of the Saints. Frequently, the main theme of the religious practices was Our Lord's Passion. The humanization of Christ developed in the 'devotio moderna' at the end of the XIV and in the XV centuries. God was sought in individual daily experiences imitating Christ's behaviour when He was on earth. The formation of the Confraternity of Our Lord's Passion in Cracow was conditioned by the development, from at least the XIV century, at the Franciscan Church of a cult devoted to a statute of the suffering Christ and to a Marian cult relating to a paiting of Our Lady of Sorrows. The idea of compassion for Our Lord and Our Lady was expressed in the name of the Fraternity: 'Archiconfraternitas Compassionis Jesu Christi et Beatissimae Virginis Mariae Cracoviensis', and its emblem became a representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the dead Christ on Her lap (Pieta). The theme of the Passion and cosuffering dominated in the religious practices of the Archconfraternity, in services solely for the members of the Fraternity which took place every Friday and on the fourth Sunday of each month, as well as in public services and processions, which were held several times a year. From amongst the many forms of religious and social activity of the Brotherhood, one of the public services is still practiced today. This is the mystery of the Passion, which takes place every year on Fridays during Lent in the Franciscan Church in Cracow. The author's considerations concern the contemporary form of the mystery, and especially questions about the significance of the ritual of the Passion. The ceremony can be described in the following sequence: 1) The Beginning: a ceremonial entrance of the Archconfraternity to the chapel of Our Lord's Passion, 2) The service 'Fifteen Grades of the Passion', 3) A procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the chapel to the church's main altar, 4) The 'Bitter Lamentations' service, 5) An eucharistic procession around the cloisters to the main altar, 6) The culmination and dénouement: the kissing of a relic of the True Cross. The main theme of the mystery, which is linked with the concept of the prayers and the Archconfraternity, is Christ's Passion and His Mother's suffering with Him. The text of the prayers and the words of the songs express this idea, amongst others, the 'Litany of the Fifteen Grades' which bring to mind further stages of the Passion as well as numerous accessories, such as, for example, a catafalque - a reminder of Golgotha, Arma Christi, or pictures of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. Gestures made by participants of the ceremony which point to the cross as a symbol of suffering and death are significant, for example the gesture of making the sign of the cross, kneeling with one's arms in the shape of the cross, or lying in the form of the cross. The mystery of the Passion takes place during Lent, which corresponds to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, where he fasted and overcame the temptation of the devil. The Lenten liturgy is full of reflections on penance and redemption. The next significant theme of the mystery is linked with this idea. The very fact of belonging to the Archconfraternity means working on the salvation of one's soul, and by participation in the Fraternity's services the members may obtain temporal and eternal absolution. The popular name of the Confraternity 'The Fraternity of the Good Death' is significant in itself, as it expresses care for a proper preparation by the members for a 'good death', that is a death without sin, and not sudden. The idea of penance and redemption may be perceived in the words of the songs, in the imploring prayers, and in the brothers' invocation 'Remember O man thy death, and repent of thy sins!'. The gestures and accessories which are connected with the symbolism of Christ crucified, redeeming the sins of humanity throught His death are eloquent as well. These include, amongst others, a relic of the True Cross and a crucifix - a representation of the Crucified - which the faithful kiss. During the ceremony, various accessories appear, which are linked with neither the Passion nor common suffering, nor with penance and redemption. Some of these object have religious connotations, but there are near-religious symbols as well. The two types of symbol appears together at various moments of the action. However, if they are referred to a more universal idea, it appears that the chaos is only apparent. There is still one more significant idea, which may be defined as manifesting the ideas of life and death. It is presented ambivalently in an eloquent presentation, for example skulls resting on the Book of Revelations or fresh flowers on Golgotha, where symbols of death appear together with symbols of life. In this context, the significance of the anticipation of the birth of Christ, shown in various pictures of the infant or young Jesus, can be understood. The mystery of the Passion is complex, the text, gestures, and accessories having many different meanings. The significance of specific components of the ritual permeate, cumulate, and intensify. Christian symbols do not portray exclusively Christian ideas. They appear beside lay symbols, and with them express a universal message. In spite of its complexity the ritual appears as a chain with at least three significant trends: the Passion and common suffering, penance and redemption, and life and death - these trends all being consequences of one another. Understood in this order, they demonstrate the internal logic of the mystery of the Archconfraternity of Our Lord's Passion.
Peregrinus Cracoviensis, 1995, z.1, s. 99-115.
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