Wednesday, December 05, 2007

World festivals, I Mysteri and Trapani

Chiesa del Purgatorio
Chiesa del Purgatorio

Running with the bulls in Pamplona, throwing tomatoes at each other in Spain, or throwing oranges at each other somewhere in Italy; these and so many other wacky festivals in the world. Have you ever thought of attending one or a few of these festivals? Lately I have. I watched a TV program on Semana Santa (Holy week) in Sevilla a few weeks ago. It looked really moving, as believers walk solemnly through the streets of Seville, Spain, some dressed in cloaks and others carrying the religious icons through the streets. As the procession passes by, people break into song, chanting some very haunting melody. Wow! I've been to Seville just before Holy week and I've seen the statue of the virgin Mary that they carry through the streets during Holy week. She looked more like a doll with glass tears. It is good to experience and participate in religious fervor.
Another festival I'd like to attend is the Gypsy celebration in the south of France at the end of May in a place called Les Saintes Maries de la mer.
In Sicily, Saints' days are very important. The patron saint of Palermo is Santa Rosalia, the praying saint, she's said to pray so much, she wore out the stone steps in a place outside of Palermo where they revere her. You can see the indentation in the rock where she knelt. One who prays a lot is supposed to have the 'knees' of Santa Rosalia. Catania has Santa Agata, the christian girl who was tortured and killed because she won't marry a pagan, they had her breasts cut off but she had a visitation from St Peter who restored her. They even make pastries to venerate their saints. For Santa Agata, the pastries were shaped like a breast. We were in Sicily for Saint Joseph's day and I love the cream puffs they make in his honor (March's trip).
In Trapani, Easter is a four day event, they carry through the streets their famous 'I Mysteri' or The Mysteries. They are actually wooden floats, wooden carvings of scenes from the passion of Christ, some 20 of them dating back to over 200 years. Each float is maintained and carried by the individual guild that sponsors it. When they are not being paraded around, they are warehoused in a church, Chiesa del Purgatorio. It's opened for a few hours each day for viewing. The hotel we stayed in was just round the corner, imagine my excitement when I found out it was so close by. At the appointed time, we walked over to the chiesa(church), to my dismay, it was chiuso (closed). The church was being renovated. Sigh!
Maybe next time. Another trip to Trapani?

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