La Desolata is a female religious procession that happens during the Holy Week, precisely on the day after Jesus Christ’s death.
In fact, women are the only persons present after Jesus dies. First they surround pained Mary at the bottom of the cross and the day after they walk to the Holy grave to share Mary’s desolation: this is what this ritual procession is about.
The procession takes place in Canosa di Puglia, a small village in southern Italy. The choir of 380 women walks around the village for 3 hours (from 09:00am until 12:00am) singing the “Stabat Mater”, a desolation prayer written by Jacopone da Todi on 13th century.
Women of different ages walk holding their arms, to support each other while walking on the uphill narrow roads under the sun. Being part of the choir is often a family tradition passed on from mother to daughter for generations.
By the time the statue of Maria Desolata leaves the church of San Francesco and Biagio, carried on the shoulders of men, while women cover their head and face with a black veil, until the statue makes her return into church 3 hours later.
Thousands of people, even from abroad, come to watch this impressive black spot, and to listen to the song of streaming pain breaking the silent morning.