Being the good Irish Catholic girl that I am, I have fond memories of being bounced up and down on *Father O’Flagherty’s knee at the tender age of 12, attending convent school through my formative years and wearing a green gabardine uniform which was an exact replica of the nun’s black habit. Hey, I still even harbour that good ol’ Catholic guilt syndrome and can say the Hail Mary in three languages.
And I have a thorough working knowledge of Holy Week (the last week of Lent and the week preceding Easter Sunday). I know my Palm Sunday from my Maundy Thursday from my Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil. It’s ingrained…
However the Irish are so dull and lightweight with their religious festivals. All I got as a child was endless Decades of the Rosary and Stations of the Cross. Maybe if we had more thrills and spills I might have engaged more with organised religion. Give me Day of the Dead to celebrate All Souls Day or Mardi Gras for Shrove Tuesday any time. The biggest thrill I had as a budding Catholic was on Ash Wednesday when we lined up to be annointed with ashes on our foreheads (our Catholic badges of honour). I always wanted the priest to mark a nice clear cross on my forehead with the ashes. All I ever got was a smudgey dirty mark as he lazily daubed it on, obviously bored as he worked his way around the devout congregation.
And Holy Week itself just comes and goes without exception in these parts. The biggest festival in the Christian calendar is a bit of a damp squib with the only excitement being a Cadburys Buttons egg at the end of it all.
Cue Spain and their celebrations during Holy Week (Semana Santa). Bah gum they know how to do it there with their processions of “pasos”, lifelike wood or plaster sculptures of individual scenes of the events that happened between Jesus’ arrest and his burial. The pasos are set up and maintained by religious brotherhoods “Nazarenos” dressed in penitential robes with conical hats used to conceal the face of the wearer.
So when I got wind of the fact that The Penitential Order of The RubberCult was preparing for the rubber rite of Semana Santa at Torture Garden Easter Ball my flesh came over all goose-pimpley! Catholic guilt mixed with rubber devotion – what’s a Catholic rubberist supposed to do? I know! I’ll be there on the front row at the main stage at midnight watching the performance of RubberCult members Brother Larvatus Prodeo, Sister Cynth Icorn, Mother Superior Sister Kim RUB, Sister Ana Mantis, SISTER HEAVEN and Sister Ruby Soho.
Who knows what piously perverted sight will meet my eyes… Will they carry processional candles? Walk barefoot? Carry shackles and chains in their feet as penance? Or will they go all out and self-flagellate or even have themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance…?
Who knows where this will end…or begin!
*Names changed to protect identity.