One week before Easter, the town of Larantuka in East Flores will be awash with thousands of devotees for the annual Easter Holy Week devotions, also known as the Semana Santa procession. Semana Santa is celebrated every year in Larantuka – during this time Catholic pilgrims from Flores and Indonesia travel to Larantuka for the week to worship, and to participate in a 10km holy parade where the statues of Jesus Christ (locally known as Tuan Ana) and Virgin Mary (locally known as Tuan Ma) and baby Jesus leads the procession. This event is phenomenal to watch as thousands of people come together to worship and when it gets dark, the night is luminated by thousands of candles which are carried by the worshipers.
The holy statues are usually kept hidden for the rest of the year, but they are on display during this holy week to the public, which makes the event even more special. It was said that Portuguese missionaries Gaspar do Espírito Santa and Agostinho de Madalena brought the statues to the island in the 16th century.
Semana Santa begins on Shackled Wednesday with prayers where devotees remember the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. On Maundy Thursday they prepare the route with candles for the following day’s procession. The climax of the week falls on Good Friday when the door of the chapel opens at 10am. The whole procession starts and ends at the Katedral Reinha Rosary. Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday mark the end of the holy celebrations.