Rorate Caeli

Tunicled Acolytes in Manila

The Hermandad de la Sagrada Pasion de Jesus held a procession last March 15 in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila. Just like the Grand Marian Procession last December 7 in Intramuros, the procession featured the traditional Hispanic practice of vesting the acolytes, thurifers and crucifers in tunicles.
Intrmuros was the capital of Spanish Philippines from 1571 to 1898. Until their destruction during World War II, the monasteries and churches of the Walled City had lovingly preserved many medieval liturgical practices from Spain, such as the use of the cortina to hide the sanctuary during Lent, and tunicled acolytes. Since the 1980's, there have been modest attempts to revive the liturgical and devotional traditions associated with Intramuros. Pray that eventually, the life-giving heart of these traditions -- the Usus Antiquior -- will find its way back to Manila Cathedral (the massive church in the middle picture) .


  1. Anonymous4:28 AM

    NOt just in England.

    All over western Europe.

  2. Anonymous6:42 AM

    A little warm iron would not have gone astray :)

  3. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Mr. Palad,

    Is the 'cortina' a Lenten Veil?

  4. The cortina refers to the large curtain used to veil the entire sanctuary during Lent. In San Agustin church in Intramuros, a huge tapestry, not just a curtain, was used.

    Some remote parishes in the Philippines continued using the cortina until the 1980's.

    Other Hispanic practices preserved in the Philippines until relatively recently include the dramatic un-nailing of the corpus from the crucifix on Good Friday, and the use of distinctive chant styles from the 16th and 17th centuries.

    Spain left us a beautiful liturgical heritage that, alas, was gradually lost through the American occupation and was finally eradicated in the post-Conciliar era.

  5. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Thank you Mr. Palad.

    Were there any customs of 'depositio' with the Cross involving a Sepulchre with corresponding 'elevatio' ceremonies that survived?


  6. Anonymous2:00 PM

    I went to an Italian parish near Philadelphia afew years ago for Good Friday. It has a ceremony similar to the unnailing of the corpus of Jesus from the Cross.
    The body is taken off the Cross, and placed in a small grotto which is made to look like a cave.
    The emotions of crying , praying, and wailing as the Corpus was taken off the cross and laid in the "tomb" for veneration was overwhelming.
    The prayers were in English and Latin...but years ago also in Italian when there were alot of immigrants from Italy. But it still is an ethnically Italo-American parish(80%), with some Irish and now also some Puerto Rican and Mexican families.
    Very well attended. Very traditional.

    The liberal pastor years ago (1980's) and the Sisters of Mercy who were still there at the time wanted to discontinue this tradition and replace it with simple bible readings similar to the neighboring Baptist "church" for Good Friday observance.
    The outcry of protest I was told was so lound and overwhelming, that the pastor (a man them in his mid 60's), was quickly replaced.
    The radical femminst Mercy Nuns left the parish the following year.

  7. "Were there any customs of 'depositio' with the Cross involving a Sepulchre with corresponding 'elevatio' ceremonies that survived?"

    I am not aware of any elevatio ceremonies.

    However, to this very day, most Filipino Catholic parishes still have a procession with the Santo Entierro (the dead Christ) on Good Friday, culminating in the "burial" of Christ and a prayer vigil at the tomb until midnight.

    Although the un-nailing is rarely practiced nowadays, it used to precede the Santo Entierro procession.

    After the Santo Entierro procession, some parishes hold the "Soledad" procession, which represents the Blessed Virgin Mary going home after the burial of her Son. The Soledad is held late at night, in silence.

  8. Carlos,

    I think the 'unnailing' or a variant thereof is still practiced in Quezon. I remember reading somewhere of a curious practice in that province, where men dressed in white from head to toe (rather similar to the 'penitente' get up used in Spain)would take down the life-sized corpus (complete with leather joints) from the cross, whereupon it was carried to a special room and symbolically dressed with the attributes of the Santo Entierro (pillow, book, lamp, blanket, cloth to tie around the jaw). These men would usually come from the family of the 'camarero' of the image of the Santo Entierro. Another strange Quezon practice is sitting the SE on a chair while devotees sing songs of lament in its honor. Will have to research more on this, though.

    And while on the subject of the American occupation, it is interesting to note that the Cebu cathedral had its baroque altar replaced with a rather plain wedding-cake-Gothic altar as early as the 1930s. There is an image of said altar floating around in Flickr showing HE Bishop Gabriel Reyes in the newly renovated sanctuary. I just hope the new retablo currently in the works will be far better than the previous attempts, including the present one.

  9. Carlos,

    Here's a photo of the ritual I was talking about:

    Good Friday Quezon

    And two accounts of the procedures:


    Dressing the Santo Entierro

    Hope that helped.

  10. Archistrategos:

    Thank you!

  11. Thank you Carlos

    I have visited the Church of San Augustin, it is beautiful and much is preserved there.

    I was especially loved the great (as in large) 4-sided choir book stand in the (also large) choir loft, complete with chant books about 1 metre high on each face.


  12. Carlos, I've attended the Good Friday procession at Intramuros. It still
    reminds me of the elderly women in purple gown with black veil and sash holding the instrument of passion of our Lord. Is it possible if you can take pictures during this Holy Week and post it at this website so that we can share our beautiful custom and tradition during Holy Week around the world?

  13. Anonymous7:45 PM

    I am Filipino and studied high school in the Philippines and college here in the states. As a Traditional Roman Catholic who found her way back to the fullness of the Faith via the writings of the Saints, the pre-conciliar Popes, and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, I can't see True Catholic Tradition seeing its way back to the heart of the Novus Ordo Catholic Church in my mother country, the Philippines, until Vatican II and all of the post-concilar novelties, Modernist doctrines and pronunciations are condemned. In other words, unless the root (and cancer) of the crisis and apostasy in the Roman Catholic Church is completely destroyed and removed, the TRUE and authentic restoration of the Catholic Faith will not be possible.

    The externals like vestments and processions remain externals while many supposedly Catholic families are openly using birth control and have no problem with the Modernist Liberal philosophies, orientations, and fashions of today.

    My mother and father came from large Filipino families - 10 or more children. But my parents produced the most children among their siblings - they had four children, big by modern standards. I have five children and I'm only beginning. No one else in my family will have more than 2 and most of my cousins are living with their boyfriends and girlfriends. A Catholic Marriage is considered more of an expense and so they will most likely have civil weddings.

    The last time I was in Manila and had to go for a medical check-up in a hospital, I was asked by a nurse a standard question along with checking my vitals: " Did you already have tubal ligation?" Why? Most Filipina women will have their tubes tied or burnt off right after having their second child.

    So I say again, as a Catholic mother who attends the Latin Mass via the SSPX and homeschools, I will probably be the only one in my family who will continue to have children and practice the Catholic Faith. Why should we be so concerned about tunicled acolytes when the real problem lies in Vatican II and the Modernist errors held by many clerics and Catholic institutions, and now Catholic families. Fighting apostasy and restoring all things in Christ should be our number one crusade. When the Faith is restored then everything else like tunicles acolytes will follow. Otherwise, the internal auto-demolition of the Faith, family, and country continues.

  14. Anonymous2:04 PM

    What were they wearing, isn't that a dalmatic?

    According to the GIRM, "... for the deacon: alb, stole, and dalmatic; the last may be omitted either out of necessity or for less solemnity;" (n. 81)

    "The dalmatic, worn over the alb and stole, is the vestment proper to the deacon." (n. 300)

    The only time that I can see a necessity not to wear a dalmatic is when there are none available. Since the dalmatic is the vestment unique to the deacon, he should wear it as often as possible.


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