Religious theatre was established with the aim of making the liturgy and services of the Catholic Church easier to understand. Originally, the intention was to take advantage of the potential of rudimentary dramatic and stage resources to convey the message of the Bible, Christianity and the Saints. It was a similar idea to that of pictorial programmes in churches, which established iconography.
From the 10th century onwards, this genre began to expand, a result of the introduction of the Roman Rite and the retraction of the Visigoth Rite.
Religious drama can be grouped into cycles, according to subject matter. We can distinguish, for example, the Biblical cycle, the Christological cycle, that of Maria, and the Hagiographic cycle (relating to the lives of the saints).
There are examples of this Mediaeval tradition that have been kept alive, reclaimed or recreated. For example, from the Maria cycle comes the Misteri de la Selva del Camp; from the Christological cycle there are the Passions, very deeply rooted in Catalonia, the Pastorets and the Song of the Sibyl; finally, from the Hagiographic cycle are the Santa Tecla tableaux, in Tarragona, and Sant Ermengol, in Seu d’Urgell.
In Barcelona the apocalyptic Song of the Sibyl announces the arrival of Christmas, while on stage the associations perform Els Pastorets.The life of the saints is also important, with the tables of Sant Josep Oriol and Santa Eulàlia.