UNESCO 'Za Krizen' Hvar Procession Featured on Vatican TV 2000

By 1 November 2017

October 31, 2017 - The island of Hvar is home to a UNESCO Holy Week tradition dating back more than 500 years. Vatican TV channel TV 2000 reports on the unique Za Krizen procession which has taken place every year through the night of Maundy Thursday in six towns and villages on the island since the 16th century. 

The ways of the media never cease to surprise me. 

Before I started working in the media, I thought that travel articles and feature stories were current, and that when one saw an article in the news about a tourist destination, the journalist had made the trip recently. Having worked with various international media on promotional stories over the years, I now know that this is not the case, and a Sunday newspaper feature story on a destination can typically go to print 12-18 months after the initial visit. And so, it seems, with television, although in this particular case, the wait was most certainly worth it. 

Hvar is famous for many things, including the fact that it has the most UNESCO heritage of any island in the world (UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Grad Plain, and four intangible herigates). One of these is the Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) procession, which has taken place every year without fail for over 500 years. At 10pm on Maundy Thursday, six crossbearers, one each from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska, lead their acolytes and pilgrims on a 22km torchlit procession through those other villages before returning to their starting point at around 7am on Good Friday. The event is a deeply personal one for the local communities, and while visitors are more than welcome to join the procession, it should be stressed that it is not a tourist event per se (you can read a fascinating interview with a Jelsa crossbearer here). 

A lovely video report of the 2016 procession has just been aired by Catholic TV channel, TV 2000, in Italy, a wonderful portrayal not only of the procession itself, but also a great promotion of the island at Easter. Trademark blue skies, wine tasting with Andro Tomic, a peka at Konoba Vrisnik, fantastic shots of the island, and then of course the procession itself. 

The origins of the film lie in a more ambitious idea which seemed quite enticing at the time. Jelsa was the first sea plane destination in Croatia for European Coastal Airlines, and when they also started operations from Pescara, we came up with the idea of an initial press charter flight from Pescara directly into Jelsa for the Za Krizen procession. While the procession is not a tourist event, Jelsa at Easter is a magical and unique atmosphere, and certainly my favourite time to be there. In the end, the flight never happened, but the seeds were sown, and a crew from TV 2000 did fly from Rome. The results you can see below.