Following the Cross Procession: Meet the Crossbearers – Toni Milatić from Jelsa

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Very soon, we will be entering the Holy Week and it is the time of the year, when the whole island will be focusing on various processions, that will take place during this time. Of course, probably the most important one is the UNESCO protected 500 years old Following the Cross Procession, which take place each year on Maundy Thursday night in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj, and Vrboska.

With many thanks to Vilma Stojković from Hvar / Unesco website for sharing her interviews (and photos) with this year′s crossbearers, starting with Toni Milatić from Jelsa.

Toni Milatić – Crossbearer for Jelsa in 2016.
(photo: Vilma Stojković)
Toni (35) signed up for carrying the Cross in 1995, it was his decision and his free will. His father was a crossbearer in that same year and Toni and his younger brother Ivan were his accompaniment. A precondition for becoming a crossbearer was becoming a member of the Brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament, which actively participate in the Jelsa church life. The Brotherhood has “their Holy Mass” each third Sunday of the month and during the Holy Week, they commonly participate in their Adorations of the Blessed Sacrament in particular hours of the day. The Brotherhood has its own rules and yellowish tunics with a red belt.
(photo: personal archive of Toni Milatić)
Toni is proud about the long tradition of the procession. How could he not be, when he is already the third generation of the crossbearers in his family, his grandfather was a crossbearer in 1938 for Svirče, his father in 1995 for Jelsa and his younger brother Ivan is signed up to carry the cross next year and will assist his brother this year.
(photo: personal archive of Toni Milatić)
(photo: personal archive of Toni Milatić)
Driven by his own vow, he will primarily pray for the health of his family, especially for his wife Katica and his five-month old son. When asked about preparing for the event, he says, that physically he feels ready as he is used to carrying the feral (lamp) in the procession for 20 years. How will it feel to carry God on the Cross is still something he is not fully aware of yet. He will walk (and run the last 100 meters) the procession in the woollen socks as is the custom in Jelsa. After the procession, there are another two processions, shorter ones – on Good Friday afternoon, when going from the parish church to the Our Lady of Health for the “mourning to Our Lady” and the procession on Easter Monday, as it is called in Jelsa “to the joy of Our Lady”.
(photo: Vilma Stojković)
The crossbearer′s family will prepare a dinner for the official accompaniment on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Toni is grateful to the women in his family, who are making sure everything runs smooth. On the occasion of the procession, even an aunt from Australia arrived, as did other relatives and friends.

This Friday, at the church ceremony, Toni will be take his cross – a moment he has been waiting for more than 20 years to the joy and pride of his family and the entire parish community.


Continue reading  about the crossbearer from Vrboska here.


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