Wednesday, September 14, 2011

La processione

The Festa della Esaltazione della Santa Croce is a very important religious and social event in Lucca, but we like it because it is' perty', I mean pretty. It is based on the cult of the Volto Santo of Lucca.  The Volto Santo is a famous wooden crucifix that is thought to be carved out of a Lebanese cedar tree by Nicodemus whose hand is believed to have been guided by angels. In order to preserve it during the crusades, the Volto Santo was placed on an unmanned boat and put out on the Mediterrancean sea. Having survived attacks by pirates, it ended up on the Tuscan coast at Luni, where the Lucchese and Lunigiani fought over it. It was then left again to fate and  placed on a cart drawn by two wild oxen, who wisely chose to take it to Lucca.  At first it was put in the church of San Frediano, but it disappeared mysteriously the following day only to turn up on the other side of the city in a vegetable plot near the Duomo of San Martino.  Obviously a choice had been made and every year the crucifix's journey between S.Frediano and S.Martino is commemorated by the famous candlelit procession called La Luminara.

Traditionally it rains every year for the Santa Croce holiday, but this year it was sunny and so the whole event was twice as long and crowded and was followed by a much bigger display of singing and orchestra music and even fireworks. No wonder the first day of school was delayed.

Afterwards, when we were taking the long way home though the fairyland lights and enchanting twisty streets, T made the following comment: "Wow, did you see the nun with the fabulous smoky eyes?" Well, keep in mind she and her friend Natasha had spent the whole day buying cosmetics at Sephora and doing each other's makeup.

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