PLANNING YOUR HOLIDAY IN ITALY IN SPRINGTIME?
Easter is definitely a good period of the year to travel to Italy. The days get longer, temperatures rise and each town gets ready to celebrate the most touching period of the year in a peculiar way.
All around Italy there are religious events you can’t absolutely miss!
Here in Abruzzo each town has its own rites during the Holy Week, but there are two special events that are really worth joining.
THE GOOD FRIDAY PROCESSION IN CHIETI
In every town, Good Friday is a special day, it is the commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a very old ritual whose origin goes back to the Medieval time. People usually take part in the so called Death Christ Procession which is a solemn parade where the worshippers follow the statue of the Death Christ and our Lady of Sorrows in black dress. The Death Christ Procession in Chieti is probably the oldest one in Italy. Its origin goes back to the IX century. It was first organized in 842 a.c. at the end of the reconstruction of the old St. Justin Cathedral. From that day, the parade starts at 7.00 pm every Good Friday, both in good and bad weather conditions. The meeting point is the churchyard and the processions crosses all the main streets and squares which are lit by torches and decorated with the symbols of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The parade comes out of the Cathedral: the twelve local confraternities appear hooded, in full uniform and raise their standard high. They process in order and are followed by the statue of Christ and the one of our Lady of Sorrow. At the end of the march the worshippers enter the Cathedral, and a particularly heartbreaking moment is the end of the parade, when a choir composed of 150 elements starts playing the Miserere.
“Madonna che scappa” in Sulmona
The “Madonna che Scappa” (The Virgin Mary running towards his risen Son) undoubtely is one of the most famous rites of the Holy Week in Abruzzo. This peculiar event takes place on Easter Sunday at 11 a.m. in the main square Piazza Garibaldi, one of the biggest and most beautiful squares in Italy. The event is organized by the Confraternity of S. Maria di Loreto, and it symbolizes the encounter between the Virgin Mary and his risen Son. The statue of Jesus Christ is positioned under the arches of the beautiful acqueduct, while on the opposite side of the square are the Statue of the Virgin Mary and the statues of the two Apostles John and Peter, announcing the Virgin Mary the Resurrection of her Son. After a first moment of incredulity, the Virgin Mary starts running towards her Son. Just before the run, with a trick that only the members of the Confraternity know, the black dress of the Virgin Mary falls down, showing a beautiful green dress (symbol of the Renaissance), a red rose and 12 doves. Traditionally, the success of the event is seen as a sign of prosperity, while problems during the run are seen as signs of misfortune or natural catastrophes. The origins of this ancient rite are uncertain, but the first proof is a photo of the event taken in 1861, and treasured by the Confraternity.