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The Brotherhoods of Semana Santa Marinera in Valencia

What is a Brotherhood of Semana Santa?

The Brotherhoods (hermandad, corporacion, cofradia) are associations of members of the parish who organise themselves to celebrate Semana Santa with processions. Every Brotherhood dedicates itself to a certain scene, e.g. the burial of Christ, the taking of Christ’s body off the cross, the flogging of Christ by Roman soldiers, the judgement of Christ by Pilate, etc. As such, they also perform specific functions during the Semana Santa. For example, the Brotherhood of Death and Resurrection of the Lord will be the one to first announce resurrection on Saturday midnight. And the three grenadier Brotherhoods dedicated to the Virgin will take to the streets on Friday of Pain – the day commemorating the Pain of the Mother.

Put together in one procession, they develop the whole story of the Passion before your eyes, in a sequence of frames.

There are 28 Brotherhoods in 4 parishes of the maritime district of Valencia. All 28 Brotherhoods have their own distinct uniforms and regalia. Such variety is unseen anywhere else in Spain.

You can see the gallery of all 28 uniforms in Valencia

The regalia of a Brotherhood

Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

Example: Hermandad de Buena Muerte

The Brotherhood of Holy Death. This Brotherhood was formed by the legendary Legionaires - the top Spanish special forces, nicknamed "death's boyfriends" for always doing a mission impossible. All of the members are either serving or retired soldiers of the regiment and their families. They have dedicated themselves to the very moment of death of Christ on the Cross. Perhaps because it is the most relevant image in their profession.

There are 4 elements of identity for every brotherhood:


Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

The uniform
worn in processions. The hats are worn only for three days – from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday. They are a symbol of mourning for the Passions of Christ. They are not worn before Thursday since Christ had not been captured yet, and they are taken off on Sunday in the joy of Resurrection. The Brotherhood of Holy Death chose colours that resemble their military uniform.


The emblem. This is the emblem of the Brotherhood and it is used whenever an emblem is applicable. In particular, you will see it on the costumes and on the walking staffs of the members. This Brotherhood has combined the graphic image of their imagen (see below) Christ of Holy Death with the emblem of Spanish Legion - crossed rifle and crossbow.

Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

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Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

The standard.
This is the flag of the Brotherhood, it is always carried at the head of any procession. Sorry, but an image of the standard of the Brotherhood of Holy Death is not available. You are viewing the standard of the Corporacion de Sayones Brotherhood.


Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

The imagen.
This is the heart of the Brotherhood – a high float that carries a sculpture depicting a scene from Christ’s Passion, the scene the Brotherhood is dedicated to. The sacred imagen of this Brotherhood is Christ of Holy Death - Jesus on the Cross at the moment of His death. This Brotherhood doesn't put the imagen on a float and instead carries it on their shoulders as a sign of deeper respect.

There are 28 Brotherhoods in 4 parishes of the maritime district of Valencia. All 28 Brotherhoods have their own distinct uniforms and regalia. Such variety is unseen anywhere else in Spain.

You can see the gallery of all 28 uniforms in Valencia

Why such variety?

In most Spanish locations, the Brotherhoods are a medieval tradition that survived to the present day. In Valencia, however, the story is different.

In reality, all Valencian Brotherhoods are fairly young – from the end of XIX century onwards. Their creation was as much of a political move as a religious one. The maritime district of Grao and Cabanal used to be a town of its own in the end of the XIX century, when Valencia began the moves to incorporate it into the city. The religious customs of Semana Santa served as a rally point to unite the residents of the district. The strength of unity that the Brotherhoods eventually provided has given the maritime district a degree of autonomy from the city. Today, the Brotherhoods will include many of the influential citizens of the maritime community. There are even Semana Santa Brotherhoods that do not have any visible presence and exist only behind closed doors.

You could say that apart from their religious function, the Brotherhoods are also economic and political syndicates. So they kept forming, and as a result the maritime district of Valencia now has the most diverse range of Semana Santa Brotherhoods in Spain.

This is not to say that Semana Santa is about politics. Not at all - you will see how deeply the residents throw themselves into the emotion of the celebration. On the contrary: the political aspect has given the maritime district extra motivation to preserve their tradition and develop their celebrations creatively.

Brotherhoods (Hermandad, Cofradia) of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Valencia, Spain

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