Spring in Molise

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Spring in Molise

  1. 1. SPRING Welcome, Spring! Goodbye snow, goodbye ice! Every day seems to be the same in our daily routine but… instead, something is changing. Mountains are still snow-capped and the sky is dressing itself with light blue. Swallows come back from Africa and rebuild their old nests. They are not the only birds to migrate but they are the most symbolic as they represent Spring, Easter and nest loyalty. Unfortunately they are at risk of diminishing and scientists confirm they arrive here less and less every year. In March the weather is notoriously capricious: we say Marzo pazzerello, esce il sole, prendi l’ombrello! ‘Mad March, the sun comes out, take your umbrella!’. The first timid days of sunshine appear more frequently but it is still chilly and often windy and rainy too. The days are getting longer, however, and March 21 officially marks the start of spring and the end of winter. “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”[Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman's Luck, 1899]. This means that Spring comes very slowly because the long spell of winter is hard to shake off.
  2. 2. While Winter was a time of rest, Spring explodes into regenerative power: buds develop on trees, bushes and plants; grasses and seeds that have laid still throughout winter, nourished by sunlight and rain, slowly emerge from their dormancy covering meadows and hills. In March there is the Women’s Day with yellow bunches of mimosa for women. Then it follows the Feast of Saint Joseph, which is a school day, yet it offers us another occasion to eat traditional sweets…just for a change!!! During the last weekend of this month, the clocks go an hour forward for the summer hour, so we gain more daylight. Following the new rhythms of nature, day after day…here we are in April! Now we can feel Spring ‘in the air’: with its strong smells, colours and sounds spread everywhere Early in the morning the sunlight filters through the shutters, birds chirp and the sounds of daily life awaken us in a natural way. Strangely enough, we feel tired and with little energy: we would go on sleeping like the animals which lazily come out from the deep sleep of hibernation. It would be nice to follow the saying Aprile dolce dormire ‘April makes your sleep sweeter’ and adapt gradually to the changes this season brings, but school recalls us to our duties. Let’s get a move on and forget the winter laziness!!! In the classroom the teachers teach as usual. Sometimes we wonder if they are never tired, but soon our thoughts go further. We are distracted by the noise of traffic, the sounds of the bells from the nearby church and the children’s happy shouting in the park. We feel an urge to get outdoors, we can do nothing but look out the window furtively and day-dream, thinking of the games, walks, cycle rides and football matches waiting for us over the weekend. Fortunately we make a digression at school on April Fool’s Day while we are getting closer to the Easter holidays. They, announced by the Easter symbols in the shop windows and in the churches, start with the Holy Week and end on Easter Monday. Even our mothers welcome Easter, starting the old ritual of spring cleaning. They remove the winter traces left in the house, open the windows to let the fresh air come in, and they seem more cheerful. Spring is a season of hope and people become more optimistic.
  3. 3. The Liberation Day or Festa della Liberazione, on April 25, is also a public holiday because it marks the liberation of Italy from Fascism (1945) and… we stay at home! At last we have taken off our heavy clothes! We are in May and we get off to a good start: Labour Day or Festa dei Lavoratori on May 1, is a public holiday, and …another holiday!!! May is called the month of roses, with the weather that is warm but not too hot for sightseeing. We can plan outdoor activities and stay outside longer. The most interesting places in our region, including the tratturi, are crowded with visitors. Schools often organize trips at this time of the year and we also have taken part to one. We have visited the Botanical Gardens in Naples where we have seen an explosion of flowers. Butterflies, bees and other insects fly free in the gardens full of fragrances. How hard is staying at school for the last tests and at home to make our last efforts to pass this school year!.… Anyway, a few days more and ... the long chain of feasts in Italy continues. They are celebrated with various local traditions derived from religion, past history and pagan influences and with flowers, culinary customs, parades, processions and village feasts. Each town or village has its own but a thing is common: they last only a day. Among them we recall Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May, dedicated to our mothers and the Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic on June 2 (school holiday once more…!) Festivals particularly beloved by the Campobasso population are The Infiorata, the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua and Corpus Domini. Summer is here!!!
  4. 4. April Fool’s Day Pesce d'Aprile or April Fool's Day in Italy is traditionally a "for-fun-only" day. We do not buy gifts or invite anyone to have a meal together. It is not an official public holiday, but simply a little fun holiday in which we play jokes on people. We do not know the true origin of this custom. Some people believe it is connected to the pagan customs involving the first day of spring. The new year was celebrated for eight days: it began on March 25 and culminated on April 1. With the reform of the Gregorian calendar the date for the New Year’s Day moved from April 1 to January 1. The people who ignored this change were considered “fools” so someone loved to play jokes on them. Why do we call these jokes Pesce d’Aprile? Because we can catch a young naïve fish easily. This refers to the joke’s victim who, like a young naïve fish, ‘swallows’ the bait that is to say, every nonsense. Even nature plays its tricks: the weather, in April, fools us with sudden changes between showers and sunshine. We tape paper fish to our friends’ back and when the ‘fools’ discover the trick, we yell ‘April Fish!’ or we point to their shoes and say “Your shoelace is untied” and laugh at them when they look down. We also write sayings and slogans on cards and walls like, chi legge questo é scemo or ‘whoever reads this is a fool’. Once in Molise the grown-ups gave children a few liras and asked them to go to a store and buy fantastic things. The seller laughed at the children’s strange requests and explained them the thing was non-existent. The children understood the joke and kept the money as a reward. We can buy chocolate fish in the shops and as usual, when we have to do with food, every opportunity is right.
  5. 5. THE HOLY WEEK The Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It is a week of passion and a time of reflection we particularly feel. Special church services celebrate certain phases of the life of Christ: His Passion, His deposition from the Cross and His Resurrection. Processions, popular feasts and folkloristic traditions are held in different ways everywhere. Now we tell you how we spend the Holy Week in Campobasso. It begins with Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent. It is a joyous day which commemorates Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where people greeted Him by waving palm leaves. We attend Mass, receive blessed olive tree branches and exchange olive leaves with friends and family as a symbol of peace. Our school holidays start on Holy Thursday so we can take part to our religious traditions. In the afternoon thirteen people chosen from the parish and dressed in original costumes halt in all the town churches. They represent the Twelve Disciples and Simon of Cyrene who guides them with a cross. At the end they stop at the Cathedral where the Archbishop says Mass and then, acting as Christ, bathes their feet in the so-called ceremony of “the washing of the feet”. In the evening we visit the sepolcri, ‘sepulchres’, set up in each local church to adore the Holy Sacrament. We pray before small altars called ‘sepulchres’, adorned with delicate veils and particular plants of wheat and lentils. They are pale yellow because women grow the seeds in a dark place during Lent. Church bells stop ringing to remember the death of Jesus on Thursday and they ring out on Easter morning to announce His Resurrection.
  6. 6. Good Friday is the day on which Jesus was crucified on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem at the top of the Calvary hill. The procession of Good Friday is one of the most important and popular event in our town. At 5.00 pm it files down the old town centre and slowly reaches the streets of the new town. There is a strong collective participation of the town dwellers: priests, monks and nuns, politicians and common people. They follow the two statues of the Dead Christ and Our Lady of Sorrow, the two emblematic figures of Easter. All along the way a band accompanies the choir formed by more than 600 people who sing the moving song Teco Vorrei written by a musician from Campobasso. All people crowded on both sides of the streets or appeared at the windows and balconies, are silent and touched. The song affects everyone creating a very strong and involving commotion as it echoes in the silent town in the dim light of the streetlights. Holy Saturday is a day of mourning, silence, prayer and preparation for the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Week finishes on Easter Sunday. During Eastertide priests go from door to door to bless each house of their parish.
  7. 7. EASTER ‘Our’ Easter is a ‘moveable’ feast because its date, calculated by the meridian of Jerusalem, changes every year. Anyway, it always falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of spring between March 22 and April 25. Like Christmas, Easter has its own symbols and a mixture of rites. At first it was a pagan celebration of the spring rebirth and new life and later on it has become a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Unlike Christmas, we live this festival in a more ‘relaxed’ way. Some people apply the old saying Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi, ‘Christmas with your family, Easter with who you like’ choosing to spend Easter far from home. Most of us, however, don’t. In the morning whole families go to Church: bells ring and altars are decorated with white flowers. After the lengthy Mass, if the weather is good, we take a walk along the main street to wish Buona Pasqua to the acquaintances and friends we meet. In the meantime lunch is waiting for us at home. As usual food plays a key part and we can’t wait to eat our typical dishes after the forty days of fasting during Lent. To tell the truth we do not observe the fasting strictly as it was once, but some of us try to cut down on meat and sweets. Our Easter menu is mainly based on eggs and lamb. Eggs are used in soups, traditional Easter pies, appetizers, salads, cakes and sweets. Lamb is linked to the ancient pastoral Molisan economy, to the quality of the meat coming from animals grazing on the high hills and fresh pastures and to its Easter symbology. Lamb meat can be fried, grilled, roasted, cooked in the oven with potatoes, or stewed. And, not by chance…the typical recipe in Campobasso is agnello cacio e uova, lamb with cheese and eggs.
  8. 8. Other local dishes, once part of ‘poor cuisine’ are: abbuoti or torcinelli, envelopes of lamb intestines filled with chopped liver; trippette, stripes of lamb stomach cooked in different ways Seasonal vegetables accompany these meats: artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, peas, new potatoes, spring field greens and dandelion greens. Our regional cuisine has been influenced by some ‘contaminations’ from other regions. We have imported: the Colomba, a delicate dove-shaped sweet cake with icing and almonds; the pastiera, a wheat-berry cake with ricotta, candied fruit and orange blossom water. We consider both of them ‘ours’ even if our grandmothers and mothers try to preserve the ancient Molisan specialities. Among these we mention: the pigna, a simple sweet yeasted bread that is the Easter equivalent of the Christmas panettone; the casciatelli or fiadoni with external salted dough filled of eggs and cheese. As you can imagine, we spend much of the day feasting with friends and relatives even if we try to leave the table as soon as possible to go out for walks… Easter has nothing to do with the magic Christmas atmosphere that forced us to stay inside! This holiday is the first taste of the freedom we will enjoy in summer. For the moment we try to be satisfied: tomorrow, Easter Monday, we will go on an outing outside the town.
  9. 9. SYMBOLS The traditional Christian symbols of Easter have pagan origins. The egg has always represented a mysterious object from which life originates. In ancient times it was a symbol of fertility and rebirth of the earth. To Christians it represented the rebirth of Christ. Throughout the centuries, eggs have been associated with Easter celebrations. It is a widespread custom to give and receive l’ uovo di Pasqua, ‘the chocolate egg’. During the Eastertide bars, pastry shops and supermarkets display plain or milk chocolate eggs of all sizes and styles. Some are sugar-decorated, sold "natural", without a wrapper, others have brightly-coloured foil wrappers, ribbons, bows and flowers. Most of them contain a surprise. Once people used hard-boiled coloured eggs: they were handed out to worshippers after their blessing. Early Christians used red coloured eggs to symbolize the Resurrection.
  10. 10. The dove or colomba is considered the symbol of peace in memory of the end of the Flood, when it went back to Noah holding in its beak an olive branch. Another traditional symbol is the rabbit and the hare as they were known as the most fertile animals, signifying new life. The lamb, sacrificed for Passover of the Jewish tradition, to Christians came to signify Christ’s death on the cross.
  11. 11. EASTER MONDAY The celebration of Easter does not end on Easter Sunday but goes on till Easter Monday known as Pasquetta, ‘Little Easter’, or Lunedì dell’Angelo. This day celebrates the rising of Christ announced by the Angel to the women rushed to the sepulchre. Easter Monday is a public holiday, introduced by the Italian State after World War II to extend the Easter holiday. Cities empty out.; all shops, stores, banks, public transportation and services, offices, bars, tobacconists and newsstands are closed. Nearly all Molisan people realize their first outing of the year choosing among the countryside, the river banks, the lakes, the woods, the nature reserves, the tratturi or the beach unless … the weather forces them indoors. Some time ago when there were more financial difficulties, groups of people used to walk for a few kilometres to find themselves into the nature. In the chosen place they made a fire, spread out blankets and tablecloths on the meadows, opened baskets full of food and pulled out all sorts of things: oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, glasses, plates, cutlery, napkins…and the meals prepared at home. Everyone obeyed to the call “It’s ready!” sitting on the grass in a great circle round the tablecloth. All that was pleasant and transmitted peace, joie de vivre which satisfied the senses: the taste of the various food, the smell of the grilled roast and the perfumes of spring, the sight of the multicoloured vegetation and the hearing of nature and the chirrup of birds. Dances and choral songs accompanied by an accordion or a hand organ cheered up the day. They went back home at dusk.
  12. 12. We know all this through our grandparents’ tales and their old black and white photos. Today we don’t walk, but we use the car for short or long distances and listen to the radio or CDs. Instead of meadows and improvised fires, most of our families choose friends’ cottages and equipped picnic areas or even typical farms with all modern comforts to live the rural tradition… We are lucky because we still spend this day with friends in the open air, playing games, enjoying ourselves but… always with the mobile within reach. What a nice day is Pasquetta! Unfortunately… tomorrow we’ll be shut up in our classroom!
  13. 13. BELLS… School bells, ships bells, mining bells, cow bells…and church bells. They are objects nearly unknown but always present in our story of people and individuals. Bells can be sad, happy and solemn according to their different tolls: they still ring for important events such as birth, wedding, death, daily and festive religious services. They were useful when clocks were unavailable. They marked out the time of day for people and peasants in the fields in the morning, at noon, in the early afternoon and in the evening. The tolls of the bells housed in bell towers, the highest parts of churches, reached everyone in the villages perched on the mountains or set in the valleys. In the past almost every church had at least one bell and many had several. Before the development of newspapers, radio or TV, church bells warned the populations of dangers, announced victories, events and natural disasters. Someone believed their sound was a safeguard against lightning and violent tempests.
  14. 14. We are proud these precious objects are made in Agnone, the same town of ‘Ndocciata’. Here skilful artisans have been forging metals to make sacred objects since Middle Ages. One of its bell foundries, the famous Marinelli foundry, is the official foundry of the Vatican. It is the oldest foundry in Europe. It belongs to the same family of founders who have been casting bells since 1000 A.D. It is specialized in commemorative bells, characterized by remarkable ornamentations but it also makes church bells of all sizes and for all churches, from the simplest country ones to the most important cathedrals all over the world. The manufacture of each bell is the result of a long process culminating into the “final casting of bronze”, an alloy of copper and tin. This foundry produced the commemorative bells of the years 1000 and 2000 as well. Year 1000 Year 2000
  15. 15. TRATTURI or … “the ancient grass motorways” Tratturo comes from the phonetic deformation of the Latin word tractoria meaning ‘free use of public property’. The tratturi are long grass tracks crossed freely by shepherds, flocks and herds. They existed long before the Romans started to rationalize their use and connect them to the consular routes, thus creating a well established, organized and protected economical activity. The tratturi were often causes of conflicts between the Romans and the Samnites, local populations, our direct ancestors. These tracks represent the past of Molise crossed by four main tratturi which linked two neighbouring regions, the mountainous Abruzzo and the flat Puglia. Each of these tratturi was 111,60 metres wide. They were main roads connected with one another by little tratturi or tratturelli of widths that varied according to the zone. All together they formed a road network which covered all the territory in a well-balanced and uniform way.
  16. 16. Twice a year, according to the season, shepherds drove their flocks through these tracks. In early autumn they left the mountain pastures of Abruzzo and moved to the warm grazing lands of Tavoliere delle Puglie and in late spring, with the melting of snows, they went back to the green mountain pastures. These seasonal migrations of livestock were called ‘transhumance’, that is ‘crossing the land’. As the tratturi marked the economy of the local populations for centuries, it was necessary to introduce laws to regulate their traffic and pay tolls. Today flocks and herds are still seen grazing on the mountains but the animals arrive there aboard trucks, and their number is very reduced. And though the sheep tracks have nearly disappeared because parts of them have become agricultural land, some bits are still passable. Taverns can be considered as motels of the transhumance. They were well equipped with services for the shepherds and huge sheep-folds for the animals. There were many along the tratturi crowed by shepherds and occasional travellers. Today some of these taverns are used as modern restaurants, opportunely reconstructed. You can also see the remains of fountains and drinking troughs. With the spreading of Christianity many churches were built along the tratturi and nearby territories. These places were very important both in a spiritual and commercial way. In fact, it is near these churches that the fairs took place during the transhumance.
  17. 17. The story of Campobasso spans 1300 years in the past starting with an outlet born on a crossroad between three tratturi. Fortunately after years of transformations and then of disuse, at present the tratturi are considered a heritage, an open-air museum which tells our history. The Law n. 9/97 set by the Regione Molise establishes the Parco dei Tratturi del Molise, not only to protect but also to increase the tratturale estate, recovering them where it is possible. In this park specific foundations organize recreational activities by bike or horse. Are you also fond of horse riding? You can contact the Associazione dei Cavalieri dei Tratturi del Molise. If you want to spend an organized week on these ancient, green and peaceful trails, you can visit this site: http://www.farandride.co.uk/ride/18 Horse riders crossing the river Biferno
  18. 18. SAINT JOSEPH This is what we know about Saint Joseph’s life: he was Mary’s husband, Jesus’ stepfather and a carpenter. His feast is on March 19 and until some years ago this celebration was a national feast. It coincides with the end of winter and the beginning of spring and is tied to the pagan manifestation of the “purification” of the fields through the burning of the remains of crops to free the field and prepare it for the sowing. This tradition still survives in small towns where a big bonfire reminds the auspices of a good harvest. In the popular tradition Saint Joseph protects orphans, marriage and families, refugees, carpenters, woodcutters, the poor and the down-and-outs. According to the so-called “Rite of the Sacred Family” in some Molisan towns, people set tables with a 13-course dinner including beans, chickpeas, cicerchias, fava beans, broccoli, white rice, maccheroni, fried red cod, sardas, mushrooms and asparagi. They invite three chosen people: a man, a woman, and a child who represent Joseph, Mary and Jesus. In the past they were chosen among the poorest people in the town to give them the possibility to ‘overeat’ at least once a year. This custom renews the senses of hospitality and familiar love that missed Joseph and Mary when they asked a refugee for the birth of Baby Jesus. This feast has its typical sweets: the zeppole, filled with yellow cream and the cauzune, a speciality from the small town of Riccia, filled with mashed chickpeas are some typical sweets of this feast. Nowadays we associate Saint Joseph’s feast with the “Feast of dads”. Children buy small presents for their fathers and at school they realize easy ‘crafts’ with their teachers’ help. The church, in our school area, is called San Giuseppe Artigiano.
  19. 19. THE INFIORATA The inhabitants of Molise are bringing the ancient traditions back to life. One of these concerns the Madonna del Monte to whom some miracles are attributed. Chiesa della Madonna del Monte Her statue is in the Chiesa della Madonna del Monte, the highest church in Campobasso. Here, the residents who worship this Madonna, go and say the rosary early in the morning for the whole month of May. From the end of the nineteenth century to the 1980s, the month of Mary, that is the month of May, finished with a short procession in the old suburb near the church. Balconies and windows were adorned with the finest bedcovers and the families living there, threw fresh petals of roses at the passage of the procession. Since 1990 a devotee of this Madonna has widened the route of the procession and promoted the tradition of the Infiorata. The Infiorata is a long carpet of images made of flower petals and leaves put on the roads of the medieval town to accompany the procession. People prepare the decorations patiently some hours before the ceremony. On May 31 late in the afternoon the procession goes out of the Chiesa della Madonna del Monte, files down the lanes of the historic centre among the smell of roses, carnations and other flowers, reaches the main streets of the new town and goes back. On the way the people attending the procession, stop at small altars to say prayers.
  20. 20. CORPUS DOMINI It is a religious solemnity the Church celebrates in honour of the Eucharist every year, on the Sunday, sixty days after Easter. On this day La Sagra dei Misteri or ‘The festival of Mysteries’, consisting mainly of a procession, takes place in Campobasso. It is certainly the most significative, religious and popular celebration in Molise as it joins together past, present and future. Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages when there was a widespread practice in various European countries to organize processions of tableaux, called “Mysteries” for some important liturgical feasts. The Church used these living representations to explain its dogmas to the illiterate masses and allowed the use of pagan elements to make them easier to understand. With the passing of the time these living pictures gradually lost their sacred content becoming a source of indecorous and vulgar amusement. After the church severe prohibitions they recovered their original religious spirit though they kept their spectacular aspect. At the same time the first fairs and markets appeared in the involved places and a lot of interested people arrived from everywhere producing exchanges of goods and culture. Today a similar tradition is still alive in Campobasso. In the past here, I Misteri were prepared and dismantled and with the help of religious congregations they changed shape and costumes year after year. In 1740 Paolo Saverio Di Zinno, a sculptor from Campobasso, transformed them into stable living pictures, as we know them today. He was able to create spectacular scenes using structures made of a special alloy of iron and steel which guaranteed a greater elasticity and security to the human characters composing the pictures. These machine, ‘machines’ or ingegni, ‘devices’ combine the traditional wooden base with a vertical framework with branches at the top. Each branch has a particular sling where a child is suspended in mid-air; adults instead, are placed on the base. The original costumes, worn by the people, hide all the frameworks. Of the 24 machines Di Zinno realized, six did not pass the test and six were destroyed by an earthquake in 1805. The thirteenth Mistero was rebuilt in 1950 according to the original drawing: it is the heaviest of all as the alloy used by Di Zinno has not been identified yet. On Corpus Domini morning the thirteen Misteri are carried in procession along the streets of Campobasso, for about 3.5 Km, on the shoulders of the bearers who move in unison, at rhythmic pace accompanied by the notes played by 5 musical bands. The number of bearers varies from 12 to 18; one main bearer directs them when they have to stop and when they have to re-start to walk. Thanks to their rhythmical movement, the children representing angels, devils, saints and Virgin Mary seem to fly. Some Misteri take inspiration from the Old and the New Testament while others represent moments of Saints’ lives. The procession is always opened by the Misteri of St. Isidor, patron of farmers and St. Crispin, patron of shoemakers as in the past it was preceded by the Faci also called Faglie or N’torce. The Faci were built by farmers and craftsmen to thank God. The Face was made of a tree trunk covered in wax with a piece of burning wood placed on top. It was arranged on a pedestal and surrounded by two golden wooden angels who appeared to support it. Flags, flowers and ears of wheat hung from its two capitals.
  21. 21. St. Isidore was born in Spain. He was a farmer who worked for a Spanish knight. This Mistero represents the Saint who strikes the soil with his stick and finds water to quench his master’s thirst. On the Mistero there is a large candle held by three angels that represents the Farmers’ Face. The Mistero has five characters and is carried by fourteen bearers. It’s 5.10metres high and weighs 487kg St. Isidore St. Crispin left his aristocratic Roman family and devoted himself to proclaim the Gospel in Gaul whist working as a shoemaker. The Mistero recalls n episode in his life when, while working with two assistants, three angels appeared bearing the symbols of his future martyrdom: the sword, symbol of the decapitation, the palm, sign of martyrdom and the crown, for his merits. The Mistero has six characters and is carried by twelve bearers. It is 4.70metres high and weighs 430Kg St. Crispin He was born in Benevento. He was a bishop and tried to protect the Christian against the terrible edicts of the Roman Empire. For that, he was arrested and put to the fire, but this one saved him, so, he was put among some wild beasts and they became mild. Then, he was beheaded and his blood was gathered in a cruet. From that time, every year, it liquefies in Naples. This Mistero shows him surrounded by angels. The Mistero has five characters and is carried by twelve bearers. It is 5.20metres high and weighs 425kg. St. Gennaro Abraham’s sacrifice remembers the events of the Holy Bible. Following God’s will, Abraham is about to slay his only child Isaac when an angel stops his hand and shows him a sheep to offer as sacrifice instead of his son. The Mistero has three characters and a lamb and is carried by twelve bearers. It is 4.10metres high and weighs410kg. Abraham
  22. 22. After Christ’s death, Mary Magdalene retired to a desert place, where she spent her last day, and there she probably dead. One day she asked St Massimo, bishop of Aix, to receive the Holy Communion. When she entered the church, he saw her floating above the altar and then, having fulfilled her wish, he witnessed her soul ascending to the sky. The scene depicted is completed by four angels. The Mistero has six characters and is carried by eighteen bearers. It is 5.40metres high and weighs 500kg. St. Mary Magdalene This Mistero represents the temptations that St. Anthony Abbot suffered at the hand of the devil in the shape of a beautiful maiden, who tries to provoke him, But the Holy man does not care of him. The Mistero has six characters and is carried by fourteen bearers. It is 5.80metres high and weighs 490kg. St Anthony the Abbot The subject of this Mistero is the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin who is portrayed with a moon under her feet and a twelve-star crown on Her head. The Virgin is surrounded by five angels: the one above Her is crowning Herm the ones below Her are holding the Celestial Sphere and the Cross, symbol of Christ triumphant over sin – depicted as a snake. The Mistero has six characters and is carried by fourteen bearers. It is 5.80meres high and weighs 450kg. The Immaculate Conception He was a French man. He was famous for his protection for prisoners. Many innocents were miraculously freed, even when chained and imprisoned. For this reason, St Leonardo is considered the patron of prisoners and in this Mistero is represented surrounded by three angels in the act of helping two prisoners guarded by a halberdier. The Mistero has seven characters and is carried by fourteen bearers. It is 5.40metres high and weighs 460kg. St. Leonard of Noblat
  23. 23. He was born in a noble French family. He left his richness and came to Italy to help the poor people, but when he retired in a desert, he was helped by a dog to survive. This one used to steal some bread to his master and take it to the holy man; but when St. Rocco came back to his country he was considered a an enemy and he was put in prison where he died. The Mistero has four characters and a puppy dog and is carried by twelve bearers. It is 4.80metres high and weighs 340kg. St. Roch This Mistero represents the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in body and soul. On the base we see a coffin uncovered and guarded by an angel. Four angels surround the Holy Virgin who ascends to the sky and is welcomed by Jesus. The Mistero has seven characters and is carried by sixteen bearers. It is 6.00metres high and weighs 500kg. The Assumption God created the Angels and placed them in the sky; but some of them, blinded with the ambition, tried to make war to God and take His place. The Archangel St Michael, with his sword, fight them. This Mistero shows Him as he pushes Lucifer and the rebellious angels into Hell. This Mistero has four characters and is carried by sixteen bearers. It is 5.10metres high and weighs 490kg. St. Michael the Archangel A boy from Bari kidnapped from his family by Saracen pirates was in service to the king of Babylon. One evening, while he was serving the king, St Nicola appeared and lifting him by his hair brought him back home. The Mistero has nine characters and is carried by eighteen bearers. It is 5.30metres high and weighs 600kg. St. Nicholas of Bari
  24. 24. This Mistero was rebuilt on the base of some original designs made by Di Zinno’s artistic hand. It represents the Love of Jesus for mankind. The message is conveyed by two images: Jesus coming into the world accompanied by Joseph and Mary and a heart. The picture is completed by four angels in the act of adorning the heart with flowers. St Joseph holds the flowered stick as he was chosen as May’s bridegroom because hi stick flowered miraculously. This Mistero has six characters and is carried by twenty bearers. It is 5.60metres high and weighs The Holy Family A lot of anecdotes concerning the Misteri have been transmitted orally. Some of them cannot be verified, others are documented because they are more recent. All of these anecdotes, true or false, represent the folklore of the Misteri. Among these the nicest on is La Donzella or ‘The maiden’ who must not laugh at the several provocations by the devil. The Misteri, like many other manifestations, have been revaluated by the Campobasso population. In fact in 1997 the cultural association Misteri and Tradizioni was born. It aims to keep the tradition alive. A museum has been realizing to have the opportunity to visit, all the year long, the ingegni and costumes and to see documents and pictures of the old and new parades. For further details you can visit the site: http://www.misteri.campobasso.it or contact the above Association on info@misteri.campobasso.it
  25. 25. SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA Saint Anthony of Padua, one the most beloved saints by the Molisan communities, is celebrated on June 13. He is always depicted with well precise characteristics and with the symbols that express the qualities people attribute to Him: his youth; the book indicating his learning, (in fact, he is called the Doctor of the Church); a white lily symbol of purity; the Infant Christ Jesus who appeared to him; his dark Franciscan habit and the bread, the symbol of charity, called “Saint Anthony’s Bread” or “bread for the poor”. There are different legends or stories concerning St. Anthony’s bread. One goes back to 1263, when it is said that a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony, in Padua, which was still being built. His mother promised that if the child was restored to her she would give for the poor an amount of corn equal to the child’s weight. Her prayer was rewarded with the boy’s return to life. In remembrance of that promise, it is a widespread custom to give small loaves of blessed bread to those who want them on the feast of St. Anthony. In some small towns women carry baskets full of bread in the procession. A group of monacelli , children dressed as friars in sackcloth with a rope belt, precede the Saint and carry a small loaf of bread and a stalk of lily. These children are placed under Saint Anthony’s protection by their parents who have a special devotion to Him. Before St. Anthony’s feast, most people say prayers to the Saint for 13 consecutive days, a religious preparation called Tredicina.
  26. 26. Pagan celebrations are tied to Saint Anthony’s feast. One of them is Pizzichentò which takes place at Castellino sul Biferno, a village near Campobasso on June 12. It involves the young men of the place who form human pyramids, each of them built by 13 people who stand on each others’ shoulders. These human towers challenge one another to a race and move rotating on themselves and singing. If the people fall, they have to rebuild the pyramid to finish their race. In the evening the callara is prepared: a huge soup called brodo bugiardo' or 'liar's broth' because it doesn't contain meat, is served with small loaves of blessed bread. This celebration originated from the custom practiced by the peasants of the inland Molise of going to Apulia to harvest wheat in June and of going back to their lands, where wheat ripens later, in July. The human hug of the pyramids meant both a feast of farewell and a good omen for the departure and a demonstration of solidarity.

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