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(Or, more fully, Santos Passos)
The Portuguese name locally used to designate certain pious exercises, including representations of the Sacred Passion, practiced annually during Lent at Goa and in other Catholic communities in India. The representations of the Passion are made by means of images and figures, although at one period in the past living beings also took part in them. According to Father Francisco de Souza, the chronicler of the Society of Jesus in India, their origin was as follows: Father Gaspar Barzeo, S. J., having returned to Goa from his mission in Ormuz in October, 1551, was entrusted with the publication of the first plenary jubilee for India, granted at the request of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier. Father Barzeo preached every day with such good effect that Goa seemed another Ninive converted. In order to keep up this devotion and restoration of manners, Father Barzeo instituted a procession of flagellants, who every Friday assembled in the church, singing the litanies and listening to a sermon on the words of the Psalmist: "Multa flagella peccatoris". At the end of the sermon there was a period of silence, during which each penitent meditated on his past life. The preacher then spoke for another half hour on some passage from the Passion of Christ, after which a crucifix was displayed to the people, who shed abundant tears and scourged themselves. From this beginning, the sermons, representations, and processions became a regular custom during Lent. At the close of the Lenten weekly sermon, a representation of some scene from the Passion was displayed on a stage in the church, after which there was a procession.
At first Father Barzeo encountered opposition from the other religious orders, but they afterwards saw the wisdom of following his example. Thus the practice spread through India and the mission in other parts of Asia. In some places these representations are said to have greatly helped the work of conversion. But as time went on, many abuses crept in. These abuses were at various times checked by the archbishops and the synods of Goa. At last, after continuing for two centuries, the processions of flagellants were abolished by Archbishop Francisco d'Assumpçao e Brito, in 1775, penitents being forbidden to scourge themselves. Other subsequent prohibitions were: the taking down of the image from the cross on Palm Sunday; artificial movements of the image in the representations; the carrying of a woman in the procession to represent the Blessed Virgin; Veronica wiping the face of Our Lord; the supper on Maudy Thursday with the figures of the Twelve Apostles; the placing of the Blessed Sacrament in a dark sepulchre on Good Friday; the use, in the scene of the descent from the Cross, of men wearing long beards, Moorish headgear, etc., to represent the Jews; the carrying of the images over flights of steps to represent those of the houses of Caiphas, Pilate, etc.; the sprinkling of red fruit juice over the images to represent blood; the carrying in the procession of the figures of Adam with a hoe or spade, and Eve with a distaff, of the Serpent, of Abraham, Isaac, and others; the representation of the scenes in a temporary structure outside the church.
With the omission of these details, the representations now take place in almost all the churches of Goa, in other parts of India, and in other Asiatic missions. On a stated day (generally Sunday) of each week in Lent, a sermon is preached on some passage of the Passion. A curtain is then raised, and a representation of the same passage is displayed on a movable stage before the high altar, only the image of Christ being shown. The representations are made in the following order: Christ in the Garden of Gethsemani; Christ in prison; the Scourging; the Crowning with Thorns; the Ecce Homo; the Carrying of the Cross; lastly (on Good Friday) the Crucifixion. At the end of each representation there is a procession with singing. On Palm Sunday, the image of Christ carrying the Cross is taken from the stage and borne in procession; and on Good Friday, after the figure is devoutly taken down from the Cross (invariably behind the curtain) it is carried in the procession, the image of the Blessed Virgin also accompanying on both of these days. On the last two occasion the procession is always interrupted by a sermon preached from a pulpit erected outside the church.
D'SOUZA, Oriente conquistado; D'ALBURQUERQUE, Decretos do Arcebispado de Goa; O Oriente Portuguez, II (1905), nos. 1, 2; O Anglo-Lusitano (7 April, 1887).
A. X. D'Souza.