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Originally published Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 7:01 PM

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Holy Week brings worldwide spectacles of faith

Solemn Holy Week processions — and the more joyful masses and celebrations around Easter to mark Christ's resurrection from the dead — endure in Italy and other parts of Europe, Latin America and beyond.

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IN THE VELVETY, warm darkness of an Italian night, silent men in long, hooded robes emerged from the twisting streets of Capri. They were a somber apparition on the resort island, Roman Catholic penitents carrying wooden crosses and walking in doleful silence to bear witness to the crucifixion of Jesus.

I watched them long ago as a young child traveling with my parents in Italy during Holy Week, the days leading up to Easter Sunday. It was a world apart from our staid Anglican Church, an in-the-streets profession of religious sorrow.

These solemn Holy Week processions — and the more joyful masses and celebrations around Easter to mark Christ's resurrection from the dead — endure in Italy and other parts of Europe, Latin America and beyond.

In the Mexican town of Taxco (above), Catholic penitents carry crosses and bundles of thorny branches through the cobblestone streets, a physical way to atone for sins. The local faithful and curious tourists crowd Taxco and cities such as Seville in Spain, where Holy Week/Easter has become one of the country's most important traditional events with thousands thronging the streets for elaborate processions.

For bystanders, whether secular or devout, these worldwide spectacles of faith can linger long in heart and mind.

Kristin R. Jackson is editor of The Seattle Times NWTraveler section. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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