Order of the parade
Characters from the Gospels
The historical characters
The legendary characters
I Characters from the Gospels
The main character of the Holy Thursday Procession is clearly Jesus Christ, who carries the classical crux immissa on his shoulder. According to the custom of Mendrisio, the identity of the person (necessarily in his 30s or 40s) who interprets this role, with the face covered by a thick beard and the forehead wearing a crown of thorns, must remain a secret. In the past, it was a tradition that Christ should be impersonated "by a converted sinner or by a public penitent who was selected by the Prior of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament." The chosen one had to make his confession and receive Holy Communion and… disappear into the woods in the Selvetta area at the end of the procession.
According to the Gospels, Simon of Cyrene walked beside Jesus along the Way of the Cross, helping him carry the cross up to the Golgotha. The three Marys, namely the Blessed Virgin (usually in the centre in the Mendrisio procession), Mary of Magdala or Magdalene (on the left) and Mary of Clopas or of Cleophas (on the right) participated in the climb up Mt. Calvary. Until the late 1800s the role of the pious women was played by three men completely attired in black, with face covered, who participated in the procession weeping.
The group of the Christ is preceded by the warriors of the Sanhedrin and surrounded by the Crowd of Jews, which demands that Jesus be condemned and sentenced to death (though the cries "We want him dead! We want him dead!" are recent additions). The Jews, portrayed with grotesque features and movements, represent the crowd that gathered to witness the crucifixion but also the one that collected before the praetorium and which, instigated by the priests, chose to release Barabbas. The group draws to a close with the two Thieves who proceed running and hopping, chained with bare feet covered by wounds. The good one and the bad one cannot be distinguished.