S. Margherita Festival Cortona

21 May

This weekend, the people of Cortona celebrated the feast of S. Margherita, Cortona’s patron saint, and kicked off the two weeks of the Medieval Giostra dell’Archidado.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Events began Friday night with the Colata dei ceri, or the casting of the candles, a religious practice that dates back to 1325. At the time, wax was collected and used by churches for candle making and also sold as a source of income.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Locals dressed in traditional costumes of the time and processed into Piazza Repubblica accompanied by drummers and flag bearers.

©Blogginginitaly.com

S. Margherita was eventually led into the piazza

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

and a few events from her life were reenacted.

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If you look closely in the pink part of the photo, you will see a headsman or executioner. After Margherita was willing to sacrifice her life in place a convicted criminal, her followers cried out, “She is a saint!” and the criminal’s life was spared.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Saturday was the Offerta dei ceri or the offering of the candles. Large candles were carried into the piazza and blessed by the bishop.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Each quartiere or neighborhood of Cortona was represented in a procession that portrayed nobility, religious and workers of the time.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Following the blessings, the flag bearers delighted the crowds with their skills.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Then the candles were taken to the Basilica of Santa Margherita.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

On Sunday morning, several masses were held at the Basilica. We walked up Via Santa Croce…

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where beautiful mosaics of the stations of the cross are built into the wall.

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S. Margherita died in 1297 in a room behind the old church where she had lived the last years of her life. Over the years, the beautiful Basilica of Santa Margherita was rebuilt in her honor.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Her body is preserved in a silver casket on the altar. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on 16 May 1728.

©Blogginginitaly.com

On my way out of the Basilica, I turned once again to admire its beauty, said one more quick prayer, and as I headed toward the door, a gust of wind blew it open. Really.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Such a wonderful weekend and such an interesting way to understand and celebrate this important part of Cortona’s history.

Ciao,
Judy

20 Responses to “S. Margherita Festival Cortona”

  1. Dominic Mosca May 21, 2017 at 4:35 PM #

    Great story

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Kaines May 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM #

    Love it!!! Makes me want to come in the spring… maybe next year Barbara

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jean May 21, 2017 at 5:11 PM #

    Beautiful pictures, Judy.
    A good friend of mine is the photographer of that well-known photo of the Shroud of Turin.
    The church invites him to Italy to give science lectures when they bring it out every few years. One of these years I shall time my trip to meet him for that and see if there are ceremonies that go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Florence Larsen May 21, 2017 at 5:18 PM #

    It you are sleeping g off the latest Festival 👏😌🎈 Happy Birthday – I can’t believe you are 66 – I feel so much older than you 😉 Loved the blog – thanks and love to Leonardo!!

    Love Florence

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julia Spina-Kilar May 21, 2017 at 6:02 PM #

    What fun; a great kick-off for
    your birthday tomorrow! Wishing you a very happy one! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fr Chuck Faso OFM May 21, 2017 at 6:14 PM #

    Judy – Mille Grazie for the photos. Good to see that the citizens of Cortona remember well their patron Saint who was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order that St Francis founded in 1221 for lay people to live the Gospel in their lay – married or single – life. Happy that you experienced such a festival first hand. I will put this festival on my list.
    Fr Chuck OFM

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 22, 2017 at 10:55 AM #

      So glad I could share with you. Expecting to see you here il prossimo!

      Like

  7. Denese Rhea Day May 21, 2017 at 6:45 PM #

    Judy, grazie mille for this wonderful story told in both word + photograph. I’ve been looking over the pictures and just imagining what it might have been like oh so many years ago. Easy to do with your lovely story of the festivities.
    My husband, my best friend, + I will be spending 2 glorious weeks near you in early August in Il Castagno. Looking forward to leisurely strolls and losing whole hours in Cortona.
    Again, many thanks. Love your blog.
    ~D

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 22, 2017 at 1:02 PM #

      So glad you enjoyed it. I know you will enjoy your time in Tuscany. Thanks!

      Like

  8. BOBBIE May 21, 2017 at 7:16 PM #

    Spectacular pix Judy. Several years ago we were able to experience giostra dell’ archidado, which we’d love to see again. Such a magnificent week to be in Cortona!! Can’t wait to see you in Sept💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 22, 2017 at 1:26 PM #

      We’ve also seen it a couple of times and it is wonderful. See you soon!

      Like

  9. Royce Larsen May 22, 2017 at 9:39 AM #

    Thank you for connecting the past with the present!
    Much enjoyed
    Please keep in touch

    Liked by 1 person

    • blogginginitaly May 22, 2017 at 10:56 AM #

      Well said – connecting the past with the present for so many us.

      Like

  10. Patricia May 23, 2017 at 2:42 PM #

    I’ve seen it masses of times and loved it every time. This year your photographs have made a very good second best to being there!. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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