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The historical characters

The Roman and Jewish authorities are the protagonists of other important moments of the story of the Passion parade after the dice players, namely Roman soldiers who decided by lot which of them should have the Jesus' seamless robe. During the procession the small group throws the large dices on Christ's robe at every stop. The leading Jews head the parade, precisely Anna (or Anània), High Priest from 6 to 15 AD, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, he too was a High Priest from 18 to 36 AD. They were the two most influential figures of the Sanhedrin and instigated the people of Jerusalem in order to obtain the death sentence of Christ before the Roman procurator.

Pontius Pilate, the Fifth Procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD follows accompanied by the red Banner, symbol of imperial majesty. Consistently with a medieval tradition that can be recognised in some paintings even of subsequent centuries, in the Mendrisio procession Pilate is dressed with Middle Eastern clothes and not as a Roman officer. Fearing the reaction of Emperor Tiberius and the revolt of the crowd incited by the Sanhedrin, Pilate agreed to sentence Jesus to be crucified. Jesus' sentence is personified at the beginning of the procession by the Roman soldier called Sentenza (a fictional name that summarises his function), who carries a pole with at the top an eagle and the words S.P.Q.R.. He is appointed to carry the titulus, namely the reason of the death sentence which, in the case of Jesus, is stated in the sign with the acronym I.N.R.I. (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum), which is traditionally nailed on the cross.

The long cloak held by pages, the crown and the sceptre are, instead, the items that distinguish King Herod. It is clearly Herod Antipas, though the character is often confused with his father, Herod the Great, who ordered the massacre of the innocents to prevent the prophesy that announced the advent of the Messiah from coming true. Tetrarch of Galilee and of Perea, Herod Antipas questioned and made fun of Jesus, who remained silent before him and was, therefore, sent back to Pilate.

Finally, the play ends with the two figures who are the protagonists of episodes that follow the death of Christ, namely Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, whose presence during the Way of the Cross is, therefore, not relevant. The two, who were secretly disciples of Jesus, carry amphorae that recall those which, as indicated in the evangelical story, are supposed to have contained a mixture of myrrh and aloe, which was used to perform the funeral rites and intended to prepare the body of the Messiah prior to burial.