Weeklong performance leads up to Easter in Mexican town

(Photos by Alfredo Durante)

Iztalpalapa, Mexico — Since the mid-19th century, the community of Iztapalapa, east of Mexico City, has celebrated Easter with a weeklong Passion Play that today has become one of the biggest theater performances in the world.

In 1843, when a cholera epidemic in Iztapalapa ended after the people's prayers, it was seen as a miracle. To give thanks, the community began to celebrate Easter each year by performing the passion of Christ throughout Holy Week, culminating in the Resurrection.

Every year, a committee selects actors according to the applicants' faith and personal conduct. Though not professional actors, each person performing in the Passion Play in Iztapalapa has a great responsibility to the community. All the approximately 7,000 people involved, from the smallest part to the role of Jesus, get ready physically and mentally. The whole community participates in every detail of the production, providing such aspects as the costumes and the wood for the cross, which weighs about 200 pounds.

The photos featured above were taken April 1-3, 2015, during last year's performance in Iztapalapa.

In recent years, poverty and violence have increased dramatically in Iztapalapa. However, its inhabitants cling to their Catholic faith, and every year celebrate Easter with a spirit of joy and with great faith and respect for Catholic customs.

[Alfredo Durante is freelance photographer with 20 years of experience as a photojournalist.]

This story appeared in the Mar 25-Apr 7, 2016 print issue under the headline: A people's passion .

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