UNESCO – The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
After mass on Maundy Thursday before the Christian holiday of Easter, each of six villages on the Dalmatian island of Hvar in southern Croatia sends out a group that will proceed through the other villages in a circle, covering twenty-five kilometres in eight hours before returning home. Each party in this community-organized Za Krizen (‘following the cross’) procession is led by a cross-bearer who walks barefoot or in socks, never resting. The cross-bearer, formerly selected from among religious brotherhoods and today chosen by registration up to twenty years in advance, has a much-desired and respected position, reflecting the devotion of the individual bearer and his family. He is followed by two friends with candelabra and others carrying candles and lanterns, five choral singers who sing the Lamentation of the Virgin Mary at several points along the way, and many worshippers of all ages from Croatia and abroad wearing the tunics of religious brotherhoods. The procession is greeted by the priests of each of the other five villages and returns home; the cross-bearer runs the last hundred metres to receive the blessing of his home priest. A long-established and inalienable part of Hvar religious and cultural identity, the procession connects the communities of the island to each other and to the world Catholic community.