RELIGIOUS TOURISM SITES IN CAMPANIA
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
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