A Ceremony at Clerkenwell
Packed tightly into St. Peter's Italian Church. in Clerkenwell, on Good Friday afternoon, were two thousand persons or more. They had come to attend the impressive ceremony of taking Our Lord down from the Cross—one not often witnessed in London.
It seemed as if all London's Italians had congregated there: men with their customary ear-rings, women with black shawls draped over their shoulders, swarthy yoUths, dark-eyed signorinas, even the barnbini: all were there.
As Fr. Crescitelli and an assistant priest, clad in albs arid black stoles, slowly approached the altar and mounted the steps leading to the crucifix standing in front of the tabernacle, it came over dark outside. The dim light in the church, broken only by the flickering of the candles which stood on the altar steps; and the intense silence, save for an occasional cough from one of the congregation, all added to the eeriness of the scene.
With Linen Bands
Each priest carried a length of linen: one length was swathed round the figure of Our Lord, the other was draped over the cross. Al! eyes were on the cross as Fr. Crescitelli gently tapped the nails holding the statue; slOwly one arm was lowered, then the aiher; The silence was
remarkable. Lastly the screws in the feet were extracted, and the figure was lowered from ihe cross and laid on a purple and gold bier.
Four members of the Sacred Heart Confraternity, wearing white robes and red capes, then lifted the figure and moved under a canopy carried by fellow members, and preceded by acolytes, to the back of the church near the thirteenth station.
The voice of a missioner speaking in Italian interrupted the meditation of the people. Prayers were said, and afterwards the procession went slowly back to the altar, which was now a purple and black background to the bare crucifix with the white piece of linen draped from it. The bier was then placed at the foot of the altar steps, between the rails, for the veneration of people.
So representative was it all of that afternoon on Mount Calvary when Joseph of Arimathea took Our Lord down from that ignominious instrument of death. that women in the church were visibly moved. The ceremony followed an address by the rnissioner and Stations of the Cross, all in Italian