Toronto’s Good Friday processions over the years, from the lens of Vincenzo Pietropaolo
For more than 4 decades, documentary photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo has attended the Good Friday procession in the streets of Toronto’s Little Italy. The Italian-born, Canadian-based photographer has trained his lens on the dramatic re-enactments of Biblical events that depict the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), held in the largest Italian immigrant community in the world.
Pietropaolo, whose work focuses on the immigrant experience and social justice issues, brings together 150 photographs spanning 46 years in his book Ritual. The book is a photographic history of how the Good Friday procession has transformed over the years: from a “tiny local parish affair” to a “major urban gathering” attended by tens of thousands. The project aims to show how the migrant community has, over the years, become a dynamic life force of the city.
In the earliest photo in the book, dated 1969 and taken at College and Beatrice Streets, the small affair had a serious, somber mood, with people dressed in their dark-colored Sunday’s best.
Over the years, the elements in the procession changed as it got bigger and bigger; statues were added, live representation was later introduced. His photos capture the people attending the procession, how generations come and go, how it has drawn people from all places and from all walks of life, and how it has acquired a new dimension in recent years.
Check out some of his shots in this photo series here.