In the sacristy of La Merced church on January 21, 1921, history unfolded as the Agrupación de Cofradías de Semana Santa de Málaga came into existence. This marked the birth of the first entity of its kind in Spain, setting a precedent for other Andalusian councils of brotherhoods. Despite the challenges posed by the recent pandemic, the centenary celebration of this momentous occasion is underway.
The foundation act signed by prominent brotherhoods like El Rico, La Sangre, and Nazareno del Paso, among others, aimed to unite these entities under a common aspiration. Historian José Jiménez Guerrero highlights their shared goal: to enhance the prestige of Málaga, support the efforts of the brotherhoods, and promote piety, charity, and the grandeur of processional parades.
The Agrupación's initiation was rooted in economic concerns. The early 20th century saw a lack of attention from local institutions towards brotherhoods. This led to a surge in new brotherhoods and refurbishments until 1931, despite setbacks such as the destruction of images and assets.
Through Turbulent Times
The subsequent years, marked by the Spanish Civil War and Franco's regime, witnessed the gradual enrichment of brotherhoods' assets. Night processions concealed shortages, and iconic hermandades emerged. The post-democracy era ushered in an aesthetic revolution by artists like Jesús Castellanos and Juan Carlos Manjón, transforming the visual landscape of processions.
Renowned artists like the Palma father-son duo, Luis Álvarez Duarte, and Mariano Benlliure have left an indelible mark on Semana Santa imagery. Today, artists like Raúl Berzosa and skilled sculptors Ruiz Montes and Juan Vega continue this rich tradition, ensuring a fusion of artistic brilliance and technical mastery.
Cultural Icons and Legends
The city's Semana Santa boasts iconic figures like the Cristo de Mena and the Virgen de Zamarrilla. Unforgettable scenes unfold with Mena and his legionnaires, the Virgen de la Esperanza, and the Virgen del Rocío at the Tribuna de los Pobres. Legends persist, and moments like these contribute to the cultural, economic, and anthropological significance of Semana Santa.
Semana Santa is not merely a religious phenomenon but a multifaceted event with sociological, economic, tourist, and cultural dimensions. The economic impact exceeded 82 million euros in 2016, with 1.4 million visitors in 2017. Over 80,000 contributing members reflect its widespread societal involvement.
As we reflect on a century of tradition, the challenges faced by brotherhoods persist. The ongoing pandemic poses threats to their charitable endeavors and survival. Yet, the commitment of the younger generation remains crucial. As we celebrate this historic milestone, let us envision a future where the legacy of Semana Santa continues to thrive, ensuring that a report akin to this one is written on January 21, 2121.