Seville's historic Easter processions have been called off for the first time in 80 years, because of torrential rain in the southwest of Spain, to the huge disappointment of the faithful.
Tourists were disappointed by the cancellation
Heavy rain forced church officials in the city of Seville in southwestern Spain to call off all six nighttime Easter processions. It's the first time since 1933 that the Good Friday processions have had to be cancelled.
The processions, known as "La Madruga" are the high point of Easter week festivities in the city, drawing thousands of tourists, and broadcast live on Spanish television.
But the six "cofradias" or brotherhoods, which organize the marches, canceled them at the last minute, because of torrential rain. Spanish state television showed people in Seville crying in the streets as the rain fell.
"The weather is getting worse. The weather front has hit us directly. There is more water on the way," said one of the organizers, Adolfo Vela.
The last time the processions were canceled was during the political turbulence leading up to the Spanish civil war in the 1930s.
The religious procession dates back to medieval times
The processions date back to medieval times, and feature hooded men wearing conical hats, carrying huge, ornate floats with wooden statues of religious figures. They were to be held in the early hours of Good Friday.
The first procession, called El Silencio because participants march in silence, traditionally gets underway just after midnight and the last wraps up at dawn.
Elsewhere in Spain, similar processions are planned for Friday, marking the day when Roman Catholics believe Jesus Christ was put to death.
Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, AP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer