The Encuentro yesterday followed the pattern set out over the last few years.
The statue of Mary, dressed in a black cloak as a sign of mourning, left the church accompanied by ladies in black with mantillas on their heads. She was carried by men dressed in long cream gowns with red cuffs and sashes. They are all members of the Hermadad de la Virgen de Belen.
It was then the turn of the statue of Jesus, carried by men in black suits, white shirts and gold ties, to leave the church. Ahead of Jesus was a group of children in blue robes and behind, a group of ladies in oyster coloured dresses and white mantillas. They are all members of the Cofrafia del Cristo Resucitado.
Jesus was processed along Calle Mayor to Calle Maestro Grau, Mary was processed along Calle Purisima to the same street accompanied by the sound of a lone drum. It was on Calle Maestro Grau that a carpet of flowers and greenery surrounding a picture made from dyed rice grains had been prepared
Jesus arrived first and was manoeuvred around the corner in a series of backward and forward movements. He was set down on boxes to await the arrival of Mary.
In front of Mary was a man carrying the banner of the Hermanadad. He approached the statue of Jesus with a series of bowing movements made with the banner. The banner was then taken backwards to where the statue of Mary was waiting on Calle Purisima. Mary was carried down to within a few metres of Jesus and set upon the ground. This was the point of encounter, Mary's black robe was removed and a silver crown placed on her head.
Once the crown was in place, a confetti bomb showered the statue, white doves were released and the firework salvo started
After salutations between the groups were exchanged, Mary retreated back to Calle Purisima followed by Jesus. The band then accompanied the pair in procession along Calle Purisima.
At two points the processions stopped and neighbours threw flower petals from their balconies to the statues.
Finally, the procession reached the church and the two statues were set to face each other. Whilst Jesus was lifted aloft, the front of Mary's paso was dropped to the floor. This was repeated several times before the two statues were taken back into the church for Mass.
I know that this is all traditional but I do wonder why it has to take place so early and why they chose Calle Maestro Grau - possibly one of the most ugly backdrops - for such a beautiful ceremony.