Coffin Fiesta of St. Martha

St. Martha, Coffin Fiesta of

July 29
St. Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus who pleaded with Jesus to bring her dead brother back to life. Jesus did so, and because Martha played such an important role in this story, folk beliefs often assign her the power of granting miraculous cures.
In San XosÉ de Ribarteme, in the province of Pontevedra in the region of Galicia, Spain, near the northern border of Portugal, the ofrecidos —people who have made a vow to St. Martha—lie in open coffins during a procession that takes place after High Mass on St. Martha's feast day. Most of the ofrecidos are women, but there are always a few men as well. They hire the coffins from the church, usually because they themselves or a member of their family has recently been cured by St. Martha's intervention. Most wear coarse net tunics called mortajas (shrouds) to indicate that they represent the "living dead."
SpanFiestas-1968, p. 154
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.