PICO RIVERA – Natalie Nu ez, an eighth-grader at St. Marianna de Paredes School, stood before a darkened church Friday and wiped the face of Anthony Gonzalez, one of her classmates. Natalie, 14, was among thousands who observed Good Friday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. The Friday before Easter, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Eighth-graders at St. Marianna organized this week’s special Passion narrative, called the Way of the Cross, a series of 14 images depicting the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. “Veronica was a good Christian who was helping Jesus when he was down, when everyone else was laughing at him,” said Natalie, who portrayed the woman in the New Testament who wiped Jesus’ face before his crucifixion. Anthony played the part of Jesus. Good Friday is the day Christians “truly focus our total attention on Jesus,” said the Rev. David Gallardo, pastor at St. Marianna. “We are recognizing that it was not the end of the story. Rather, it was a transitional step to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,” he added. Colleen Marks, spokeswoman for Whittier Area Community Church in Whittier, said the tone among Christians is generally somber on Good Friday. “We look at and really think of the ultimate sacrifice and the passion of Jesus on the cross for us,” Marks said. Christians commemorate Good Friday with special prayer services and sermons, as well as meditation and communion. Sometimes, there is also fasting and penance. Marks said Good Friday usually draws more people to church. “As we see in the life of Jesus, the cross wasn’t the end, so that encourages us and gives us the sense of hope that our challenges our sufferings are eventually transformed into blessings,” Gallardo said. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!