Hvar is ready for the traditional “Za Križen” procession, which will this year include Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as well, reports Dalmacija Danas on April 13, 2017.
The procession takes place every year in the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday and includes six parish churches on the island of Hvar. The procession begins at 10 pm with six separate processions simultaneously starting from six parish churches in the central part of the island, in Vrbanj, Vrboska, Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik and Svirče. Each procession is 25 kilometres long, and at around 7 am return to the starting point.
In this year's procession starting from the parish church in Svirče, the faithful will be joined by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, whose family originates from the village, according to Radio Dalmacija.
Every procession is led by a crossbearer carrying a cross. The role of the crossbearer is an immensely big honour on the island, so the role is sometimes determined for many years in advance. The crossbearer walks in the accompaniment of helpers, two followers who carry the big candle holders, two lead singers and several responders that sing the Gospin Plač chant. The biggest procession is in Jelsa, in which the number of pilgrims sometimes surpasses one thousand. The procession in Jelsa is also special due to the custom that the crossbearer runs across the last hundred meters of the way.
The first written record of the procession dates back from 1658.
In 2009, the tradition of the “Za križen” procession was included in the UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.