Oswaldo Ortega Palma, is a young man who played the role of Jesus in the Passion Play of Iztapalapa
The most important and most difficult role to play in the Passion of Jesus which is presented in the district of Iztapalapa, is that of Jesus Christ.
It is a great honor for any young man in the district to be chosen for this complex role, but also a great responsibility, since the whole staging of the play centers on him.
Physically, it is very demanding. Very early on Good Friday, the young man has to bear the lashes meted out by the “Romans”; a crown of thorns is placed on his head and he has to carry a 220 pound wooden cross along a route of several kilometers.
Finally, after climbing the Estrella hill, he is crucified – he is not actually crucified, he’s bound with ropes -, before the eyes of millions of spectators.
Let’s find out a bit more about this young man, endowed with such great physical and spiritual strength.
*What’s your name?
Oswaldo Ortega Palma.
*How old are you?
*Is this the first time you have played the role of Jesus?
Yes, it’s the first time, although I played a Nazarene for five years, and a Roman for three.
*Who are the Nazarenes?
Everyone can take part as a Nazarene; you only have to wear a brown tunic and a crown of thorns with yellow flowers. Everyone’s responsible for getting the Nazarene costume and the cross to carry along the route, through the streets of Iztapalapa. All the Nazarenes are men, of different ages, from boys to old people, and they do it as an offering to God, or to keep a promise they have made to God.
*How did you become interested in participating in the Iztapalapa play?
My parents took my brothers and sisters and me to see the Passion of Jesus and we liked it. I played at being Jesus with a cross we had in the house.
*How do you feel, now that you are realizing your dream of playing the most important role of Jesus?
Great joy and responsibility. My dream has come true and I am trying to get closer to Jesus spiritually, and like my Dad tells me, I try to be better every day.
*Do you feel like you are different from young people your age?
No, I am a normal young person, I like to play basketball, listen to music, read, these are my hobbies. I go to school, although right now I have had to stop in order to concentrate on my role.
*Does your family also take part in the play?
Yes, my brother also has a role.
*Were there other boys who wanted to play the role of Jesus?
Yes, there were 25, all of them from here, the district of Iztapalapa, but they chose me.
*How often do have rehearsals?
There are rehearsals every afternoon for all the roles.
*Aren’t you afraid of the lashings you are going to get?
No, on the contrary, I have asked them to really do it hard, so as to feel something of what our Lord Jesus Christ felt.
*Are you worried about anything?
What I ask most of God is to be able to endure, to bear all the blows and the trip through the streets, until we get to the hill where the crucifixion takes place.
*How heavy is the cross you are going to carry?
It weighs more than 220 pounds. I asked for it to be as heavy as possible, in order to feel a bit of what Christ felt.
*How are you training physically for the play?
Every morning I run, and I climb the hill carrying a trunk or sacks of sand. I try to do it when the sun is hottest, so that I can put up with it on that day. I also go the gym for two or three hours a day.
*Are you under a doctor’s supervision?
Yes, I go to a lady doctor who is checking me and gives me vitamins.
*Will a doctor be with you on the day of the play?
Well, there are Red Cross doctors along the route.
*What will you do with your cross when this representation is over?
I’m going to varnish it and put it in the patio of my house. We’re going to build a roof over it to protect it from the rain and sun. It will be a nice reminder that I was given the role of Jesus Christ, which I have wanted so much since I was a young boy and now I am able to fulfill.