Thousands of people gathered at Humberstone Gate in Leicester City Centre this Good Friday to witness the open-air Passion play Christ in the Centre. The dramatic re-enactment centred on the two most important events of the Christian calendar the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and his joyous Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Christ in the Centre was first staged in 2003. Throughout the ten year history of the event the Passion play has consistently attracted huge crowds. In total the staging of the event costs £40,000 which is made up almost entirely of donations from members of the public. However this year, due to a lack of funding and volunteers, the procession which traditionally starts the event was cancelled.
One of the event’s organisers Jonathan Wheeler said
To do a procession you do need a lot of volunteers to act as stewards, unfortunately we didn’t get the numbers we needed to be able to pull that off. If we were to have had the procession we would have needed a second stage and sadly there is a funding issue in these tough times. I think we took a sensible decision not to overstretch ourselves. We know we can do this part of the performance really well so that’s what we focused on and I think we have certainly delivered. There has been a tremendous turn out today, I believe the crowds to be somewhere in the region of 10,000 people.
Taking place on a specially built stage Christ in the Centre illustrated Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, betrayal by Judas Iscariot, arrest by the Roman authorities, trial, death and Resurrection. Throughout the performance the huge BBC Big Screen on Humberstone Gate was utilized to give onlookers a close up view of the on stage action.
Joanna Clarke, who attended the event with her young family, said “The performance was very stirring and emotional. I think this is a great event, it allows members of the public to gather together outside of a traditional church setting to celebrate the Easter message.”
The idea behind Christ in the Centre is to focus on the true meaning and importance of the Easter message. Christians believe that on Good Friday Jesus Christ died to wash away the sins of the world. His subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday is the single most important event in the Christian festival and signifies that human beings can attain eternal life by following his teachings.
The Urban Canon of Leicester Barry Naylor said
One of the great things about Leicester is that it is a city of festivals and all of the major religions have their festivals out on the streets at various times throughout the year. Today gives the Christian community the opportunity to celebrate what is at the very heart of our faith. One of the great things about this being on the streets is that’s also where Jesus was he didn’t spend his time not in the temples and synagogues but outside amongst the people. Obviously Christ in the Centre is way for Christians to come together but everybody who comes into the city centre today will also be able to see the true meaning of Easter.
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby was also in attendance, he said
It was wonderful to see this story which is at the heart of the Christian faith being told right here in the heart of our city and to see it being shared by all the communities of Leicester. Christ in the Centre is a reminder of how in Leicester we have the opportunity to celebrate all of the religious traditions that exist in the city. This story of Christ’s death and resurrection has been played out for so many centuries but that same story continues to be extremely powerful and moving to onlookers here today. Watching on I was struck by the profound effect the scenes had on the people stood next to me.
For more information on Christ in The Centre please visit: http://www.christinthecentre.co.uk