They say it’s like being on the Via Dolorosa in the first century.
Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the Good Friday Passion Play at The Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Penrose Park, on March 30.
More than 100 cast and crew members come from far and wide to the southern highlands’ bushland shrine to recreate as realistically as possible the last days of the life of Jesus Christ on earth, from his triumphant final entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his death on the cross on Good Friday.
It is known as a ‘most realistic’ re-enactment and this year there is an extra special touch – Nathaniel Tedesco, who has played the lead role for the past six years, is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he was crucified.
Costumes, props and sets add to the ‘visual, visceral, immersive experience’.
“It’s not a normal passion play,” says executive director David Bruggeman, whose whole family has been involved in the event for many years.
“It has really improved my family’s understanding of Christ’s passion.”
The event draws large groups from a variety of cultural backgrounds and many also make pilgrimages to the mini shrines of the various Catholic communities on the grounds.
Priests will offer the sacrament of penance at outdoor confessionals throughout Good Friday and the Australian bishops have approved a plenary indulgence for those who follow the Passion Play as it incorporates the Stations of the Cross.
The play begins at 11am on Good Friday, 30 March, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Penrose Park, 120 Hanging Rock Road, Sutton Forest. The celebration of the Lord’s Passion begins at 3pm.
Penrose Park is cared for by the Pauline Fathers, who facilitate a range of monthly devotions.