The centuries-old feast of the Madonna della Bruna , Patron of the city of Matera, begins with the procession “of the shepherds”, which wakes the ancient quarters at the first light of dawn, to greet the Image of the Virgin. Her passage is announced with fireworks, while the Knights who escort the float gather along the streets and in the “neighbourhoods”.According to tradition, on the morning of July 2nd the statue of the Holy Mother is taken into the church of Piccianello and then is carried in procession on the float all afternoon, along the main streets of Matera, which are flooded with people. In the evening the procession reaches the Cathedral Square, where “three turns” are performed, to symbolise the taking of the city by the Holy Patron. The statue, accompanied by the Archbishop’s court,is placed in the Cathedral.The Knights, whose horses are draped with paper and velvet flowers, surround the float.The charioteer urges the mules towards the close-by piazza, to return the symbol of the Feast to the throngs gathered there. Following the same ancient ritual, the masses of people, in their excitement, confuse the sacred with the profane, and, to the general astonishment, assault and destroy the chariot, fruit of months of handwork. (It will be designed and rebuilt the next year) The festivity ends in the late evening with the din of the fireworks contest , which creates a unique scenario above the ancient quarters of the Sassi, a Unesco World Heritage site.
The “Madonna della Bruna” is the protectress of the city of Matera. The festival dedicated to her is celebrated on 2 July since more than 600 years, when Pope Urban VI, former Archbishop of Matera, in 1389 instituted the feast of the Visitation, from that date on the festivities in honor of the Lady, already existing in the city of Matera since few centuries ago, were made to coincide with the feast of the Visitation, on 2 July.
This religious and historical festival is taking place in Matera, Basilicata, Italy every July 2 and is suitable for people of all ages. For more information, please visit http://www.festadellabruna.it/.
The people of Matera are convinced that the Bruna’s name came from the dark color of the image of the Madonna in the Duomo. Restoration, however, refuted such a thesis, as the image is quite light. It was darkened by the smoke of the candles, which the believers lit in the church throughout the centuries. Pope Urban VI probably established the name in 1389, when he proposed the celebration of this Feast. Gattini ascribes the meaning of this name to the term “bruna”, which means “armour “. Others believe “Bruna” to be the dialect corruption of “Hebron”, the city in Judea where the Virgin visited Saint Elisabeth. Hence the other, less common name, “Visitation “.
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