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John F. Chuchiak IV, Ph.D.

212 University Hall
Honors College
Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri  65897
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JohnChuchiak@missouristate.edu

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 Procession of the Penitents

 

The procession began at the doorway of the Inquisition's palace, located on the plaza of Santo Domingo, and worked its way toward the central plaza.

 

At the front of the procession, the inquisitors marched with their crucifix, whose black veil symbolized that Christ was in mourning for the heretics.

 

The prisoners were escorted and guarded by the inquisitorial militia, and each was accompanied by two familiars of the Inquisition.

 

The general procession and files of the penitents followed a specific order. In the first place, the inquisitors marched all of the penitent heretics who received sentences of penance. The penanced marched with their heads uncovered, wearing their sanbenitos, each according to the style of public abjuration they were expected to make. The penitent heretics also marched carrying a lighted green candle as a sign of their hope for.

 

Those who were sentenced to receive the punishment of public flogging also had a knotted noose or cord around their neck as a sign that they would receive lashes or go to the galleys. In the second place came the reconciled heretics dressed in their own sanbenitos with the full Saint Andrew's crosses on the front and back. They also wore the conical dunce caps of shame with similar insignia.

 

Next came the procession of those heretics sentenced with relaxation to the secular arm, that is, those condemned to receive the death penalty. They too wore the conical coroza, or fool's hat, and their sanbenitos not only contained the full Saint Andrew's cross but were also painted with flames and demons as a symbol of their ultimate fate: being burned alive.

 

Finally, there came the statues or effigies of those heretics tried and convicted in absentia, along with the cadavers or bones of those deceased who had been tried for heresy posthumously.