Corpus Christi, also called the Day of the Lord, is a very special celebration in Lagartera.
It is very important for Catholics that the Blessed Sacrament is taken out into the streets. This morning the procession has a marvellous route. Before the procession a solemn mass is celebrated.
Lagarterans get up very early in the morning to finish all the decorations in time.
This celebration goes back centuries, and we continue to celebrate it year after year, century after century. At first, the monstrance was carried on a platform. Later the church decided that the monstrance should be carried in the hands of the priest. That was how the monstrance came to be carried under a canopy.
This is when people began to set up altars in Lagartera. Their purpose was to provide a place for the priest to rest the Monstrance.
The altars are similar in their composition. The decorative textiles vary, some being richer than others.
On the eve of the procession, we set up the table (the altar), which is dressed as if it were a bride. We start with the front piece, then we put the sacramental sheet in place, then the percale cover, followed by the cloth representing the Passion, and finally the last coverlet. All these pieces are placed from largest to smallest.
The doors and jambs of the house are covered with drawn thread work covers, percales, antique curtains… The front piece over the door is the finishing touch to all of this. We add to all this, plants that we have taken care of during the year in our patios, which go out on display in the street on this day. All this is for the Lord.
Altar of a family in mourning.
On top of the table (altar) we usually place the Infant Jesus, in the centre.
They are mostly carved of wood, and some are from the 16th and 17th centuries, but you can also see more modern carvings.
We also, of course, place candles and flowers on the altar.
The priest places the monstrance in front of the Infant Jesus and blesses the house with it (this is very moving for the family) while the choir sings songs to the Blessed Sacrament.
The following day, very early in the morning, we begin to decorate the entrance of the house. This is decorated with coverlets… and we will see many representing the Passion. All these wonderful decorative pieces are very old, so we must take good care of them, to be able to continue to enjoy them.
When setting up the space to receive the Lord, we put a ‘transparente’ at the back. The ‘transparente’ is an embroidered cloth that is open enough to allow the family to see the arrival of the Lord from inside.
In front of the altars we can see Lagarterans dressed in their traditional attire.
The little girls have a seat to rest on.
So much work has gone into this!
How handsome he is!
It is above all a religious festival.
The balconies of the streets through which the Blessed Sacrament is carried are also decorated, so we can see quilts, bridal bedspreads, and some silk embroidered coverlets.
The ground is strewn with aromatic herbs, such as fennel, spearmint, thyme and lavender. When you walk through the streets, the scents of these herbs mingle as they are crushed underfoot.
The windows are also decorated.
There is another detail that we must not forget; the Holy Sacrament is accompanied by the Brotherhood of Santa Vera Cruz, and in the procession for the Holy Sacrament there is a large number of Lagarterans who wear their traditional costumes (taken out from storage in the coffers).
The women wear their spectacular costumes, full of colour, with gold and silver threads. The men are more soberly dressed.
It’s nice to see parents with children in their strollers,
and holding hands with them,
or holding children in their arms, sometimes because they have fallen asleep.
ALM, Lagartera, Toledo, May 2022
All the photos are by Gonzalo Díez.