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Charles, 16, penitent



Christ, caparuxes, misteris, the procession of the Sanch is a bit confusing when you don’t know the ins and outs. This Catalan tradition, dating from the Middle Ages, celebrates Good Friday. The members of the Archconfraternity of the Sanch meet every year in the old town of Perpignan to perpetrate, together, the passion of Christ.

Charles is 16 years old. For more than 10 years he has been participating, more or less actively, in the procession of the Sanch. It is a way for him to keep the family tradition alive, but also to find himself, in the course of a service, in harmony with religion. Faced with a society full of prejudices, Charles prefers to tell his story behind closed doors. On the one hand to avoid demystifying his approach to faith, but also to avoid the judgment of others. This year, and for the first time, he wears the Devoted Christ, an honorary position for him.

The Archconfraternity of the Sanch (which means blood in Catalan) was created in 1416 in the church of Saint-Jacques in Perpignan by a certain Vincent Ferrier. Faced with the weariness of the popular violence of the time, he wished to accompany the condemned to death in his last journey, in the manner of Christ. Throughout the ages, the procession has encountered many obstacles. Before the Revolution, showing that one was Catholic, showing that one was pious, was well seen. From then on, a part of the population, often non-believers, joined the procession in order to boost their ego. This aspect generates many excesses, like the flagellation in public place, leading the stop of the procession in the streets of Perpignan. Let us emphasize that at the time of the separation of the church and the state at the beginning of the XXth century, the procession is not recognized as being an institution with a patrimonial purpose, which finishes the idea of a possible revival.

But in the 1950s, a group of men brought the procession back to life. Charles’ great great grandfather was one of them. However, the image of the procession is damaged. “My great-great-grandfather was accused of collaborating with the Nazis, when in fact he was delivering weapons to the Americans,” Charles says. The political orientation of those who launched the brotherhood is often discussed in Perpignan society. In fact, it is without embarrassment and with dubious logic that part of the population refers to the Ku Klux Klan when observing the members of the brotherhood. Today, many people make the shortcut towards a form of extremism, whereas one is in front of individuals perpetrating a religious rite and following a tradition which is registered today in the heritage of the city.