Order of the procession
The Dead Christ
Our Lady of Sorrows
History records that relations between the secular clergy and the Order of the Servants of Mary were quite antagonistic for quite some time. The debate regarding the organisation and performance of the Holy Friday procession especially centred on economic issues and matters of prestige. The economic matter concerned the fact that, in the past, an individual payment was requested to participate in the processions, whose total sum was a temptation for both the archpriest and the prior.
As regards the prestige of organising the event, the controversy was intense especially in the 18th century, when the Mendrisio parish claimed the right to lead the procession because the regular clergy, according to the ecclesiastical regulations in force, was forbidden to organise processions outside the perimeter of their convent without prior authorisation. During those years, the apple of discord was, from time to time, the route to be followed, the blessings to be imparted, the precedence within the procession itself and other even less important matters.
The arbitrators provided by the Superior Generals of the order, by the landvogt (who was the governor of the bailiwick) and by the Bishop of Como (Mendrisio was part of his diocese) successfully reached a compromise that envisaged a division of duties. The secular clergy would maintain the prerogatives of incensing the statue of the dead Christ, of imparting the blessing and of reciting prayers in the parish church and in the Church of St. Francis, while the Prior of the Servants of Mary would perform the same services in the Church of St. John and lead the procession in the privileged position in front of the Blessed Virgin, receiving a good part of the revenues intended for the maintenance of the furnishings and the purchase of candles.
Until their expulsion from the Canton (maiuscolo), the Servants of Mary controlled the Good Friday procession, which was considered the "Procession of the Virgin Mary and, hence, always recognised by the people of Mendrisio," and their hegemonic role was underscored by the fact that they always paraded in the most prestigious position, which was at the end of the procession.