Yesterday, September 19th, was the festa di San Gennaro. As you may or may not know, San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, where a vial of his blood is kept in the San Gennaro chapel of the Duomo. Three times a year, a miracle is said to happen, when the blood that is dried up in the vial becomes liquid.
I was there three years ago in May to witness this event. I had no idea that the day I went into Naples with our friends to show them around was one of those miracle days. We were in the chapel when suddenly the Bishop came out holding the vial. He tipped it up and down to show the liquefaction of the blood. There were maybe 30 people in the chapel and they all lined up to pay their respects to the saint.
September 19th however, is the day that most people associate with San Gennaro. It’s his onnomastico, his name day, and all the Gennaros in Italy are feted on that date. But we aren’t usually in Cervinara in September, that being the month when we prefer to be out traveling around. We’ve been in Turkey, in the Czech Republic, in Slovenia…but never in Cervinara! I had no idea that San Gennaro would be celebrated here with yet another procession.
A few days ago a big poster was slapped up onto our local “bulletin board”, announcing the festivities that would be associated with San Gennaro. It turns out that he is not only the patron saint of Naples, but also of our humble little town. There is a statue of him in the Santuario della Beata Vergine Addolorata, which is just down the street from us off of Piazza Elena and it was from that church that everything was organized. There were special masses said all week, and then on the evening of th 19th, at five o’clock Italian time (so it was actually 5:30!), the saint was led out of the church, down the stairs and mounted onto the roof of a car. The car was preceded by a brass band, then a group of priests and deacons, a cantor and the Rosary women. It was followed by all the faithful of the parish.
This was a short procession for Cervinara; just up the hill to Ioffredo and the church of San Nicola, then back down to Piazza Elena for more celebrations. There were no fireworks this time, and no concerts in the piazza…just a mass remembering this saint who was martyred by Diocletian and who was the first bishop of Benevento.
I think this will be the last of the processions for the season….the weather is changing and it’s raining and windy more often. Processions are events for the clear summer weather. I may be wrong though. There are certainly many more saints that could be celebrated and Italians are never unwilling to throw a party! But I’m pretty sure that we’ll have to wait until next summer for the celebrations to start again. In any case, congratulations to all you Gennaros and Gennarinos out there! Yesterday was all about you!