From the cult of San Gen­naro at Pi­etrel­cina, a trip to dis­cover the favourite des­ti­na­tions of pil­grims in Cam­pa­nia, with a nod to the ‘In­cap­puc­ciati’ (‘the hooded’) of Sor­rento

Where Naples Coast & Islands - - CONTENTS -

From the cult of San Gen­naro at Pi­etrel­cina, a trip to dis­cover the favourite des­ti­na­tions of pil­grims

Naples is known uni­ver­sally for its ven­er­a­tion of San Gen­naro and the ‘blood mir­a­cle’ which, twice a year, at­tracts devo­tees and tourists from all over the world to the city. How­ever, in ad­di­tion to San Gen­naro, Cam­pa­nia also of­fers nu­mer­ous pil­grim­age des­ti­na­tions. Where takes you on a jour­ney to dis­cover the spir­i­tual places. The Duomo of San Gen­naro is ded­i­cated to the cult of the pa­tron saint of the city, the Arch­bishop of Ben­evento who was be­headed near Sol­fa­tara in 305, dur­ing the per­se­cu­tion of Chris­tians by Em­peror Dio­cle­tian. It is here, in the Baroque Chapel of the Trea­sure of San Gen­naro, that the re­mains of the Saint are pre­served and where, dur­ing a solemn cer­e­mony, the liq­ue­fac­tion phe­nom­e­non takes place. The ‘mir­a­cle’ oc­curs on 19 Septem­ber, the Saint’s feast day, and on the first Satur­day of May, mark­ing the end of the erup­tion of Ve­su­vius in 1631. Ac­cord­ing to pop­u­lar be­lief, the way that the blood liq­ue­fies is also con­sid­ered im­por­tant. If it hap­pens eas­ily and quickly, it is con­sid­ered a good omen for the city; in the event of it fail­ing to liq­uefy, it is seen as a bad omen herald­ing neg­a­tive events. A sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­non to that re­peated in the Duomo also takes place in Poz­zuoli, in the church of San Gen­naro where the mar­ble slab on which the Saint was thought to have been be­headed is safe­guarded. It would ap­pear that the slab is still im­preg­nated with blood and there are, in fact, those who be­lieve that th­ese red traces take on a more in­tense colour at the same time as the most im­por­tant mir­a­cle oc­curs at the Duomo in Naples. The sanc­tu­ary of the Blessed Vir­gin Mary of

Pom­peii, a land­mark site of Mar­ian de­vo­tion, is a religious site vis­ited by mil­lions of devo­tees each year. The icon of the Blessed Vir­gin, de­picted hold­ing the Christ Child on her lap, sur­rounded by Saint Domenico and Saint Cather­ine of Siena, is truly a breath­tak­ing sight. The main dates of Mar­ian de­vo­tion in Pom­peii are 8 May and the first Sun­day of Oc­to­ber, when the novena to the Madonna of the Rosary is re­cited.

Fes­ti­val days in hon­our of the Madonna are known to whip up mass hys­te­ria, best ex­em­pli­fied by the an­nual Feast of the Madonna of the Arch. Held on Easter Mon­day, it sees thou­sands of pil­grims called ‘Fu­jenti (Neapoli­tan for ‘those who run’) walk bare­foot to the Sanc­tu­ary of the Madonna dell’Arco, lo­cated near the vil­lage of Sant’Anas­ta­sia , at the foot of Mt. Ve­su­vius.

The Mon­tev­ergine Abbey, lo­cated in Mercogliano, in the prov­ince of Avel­lino, is an­other im­por­tant Mar­ian site. Devo­tees make pil­grim­ages here dur­ing Pen­te­cost, The As­sump­tion and the Nativity of the Vir­gin Mary. Un­til the last cen­tury, pil­grims trav­elled by car­riage to Mercogliano and then con­tin­ued on foot along the paths of the Parte­nio moun­tains, stop­ping to pray at a hol­low in the rocks shaped like a chair, tra­di­tion­ally known as the ‘tired Madonna’, be­cause the Vir­gin, tired from walk­ing, is thought to have sat down here. At the Duomo in Amalfi, in the prov­ince of Salerno, the cult of Sant’An­drea is ex­tremely pop­u­lar. Founded in the 10th cen­tury, its im­pos­ing cathe­dral bears wit­ness to the grandeur of the old Mar­itime Re­pub­lic. At the be­gin­ning of ‘300 a pil­grim from the Holy Land dis­cov­ered that a liq­uid, in­ter­preted as ‘manna’ hav­ing mirac­u­lous pow­ers, flowed from the al­tar of the crypt hous­ing the relics of the saint. The saint is cel­e­brated for the en­tire month of Novem­ber. Al­ter­nately, the Duomo of Salerno is ded­i­cated to Saint Matthew, the pa­tron saint of the city. A mar­velous ex­am­ple of Ro­manesque ar­chi­tec­ture, it was built to house the re­mains of the saint, un­earthed in 1079. Two religious feasts cel­e­brate Salerno’s pa­tron saint: on 6 May, the faith­ful cel­e­brate the trans­fer of his re­mains to the Duomo while on 21 Septem­ber, the ‘ono­mas­tico’ (name day) of the saint is cel­e­brated with a solemn pro­ces­sion and fire­works at sea. We now find our­selves in the prov­ince of Ben­evento, in Pi­etrel­cina, the birth­place and site of the first mir­a­cles per­formed by Padre Pio, then known as Francesco For­gione. The con­vent of the Sa­cred Fam­ily, built fol­low­ing a vi­sion, is ded­i­cated to him. The ad­join­ing mu­seum houses nu­mer­ous ob­jects and relics of the holy friar, in­clud­ing a tu­nic soaked with the blood of his stig­mata. The town and its en­vi­rons abound in mem­o­ries of the saint, from his house in vico Storto Valle to the church of Santa Maria degli An­geli, where he cel­e­brated his first mass, to the farm­house in Piana Ro­mana, where he spent sum­mers work­ing in the fields. The elm un­der which the friar saw the first signs of his stig­mata still stands at the farm. Pi­etrel­cina and San Gio­vanni Ro­tondo are among the des­ti­na­tions most widely vis­ited by pil­grims from all over the world.

Cathe­dral of Salerno

Blessed Vir­gin Mary of Pom­peii

Padre Pio

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