Tuscany and Lucca’s Luminara

by Samuele Sodini

The picture on the front cover is very meaningful for everyone who claims to be Lucchese.
It was taken last year just before the procession of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross started to arrive in the Cathedral of San Martino.
The procession leaves from the Church of San Frediano and retraces the steps of all of the other processions which have traditionally taken place on the 13th of September every year – Piazza San Frediano, Via Fillungo, Via Roma, Piazza San Michele, Piazza Grande, Piazza del Giglio, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza San Martino to arrive at its destination.
When the head of the procession arrives in the cathedral, the last part of it is still waiting to leave San Frediano so this may help you to realise just how many people take part in it.
It begins with archbishops, bishops, parish priests and parishioners carrying banners to announce where they are from, with brass bands playing liturgical music and choirs singing hymns in praise of the Holy Cross, each person holding a candle.
The local councils are well represented as are all voluntary organisations, with local politicians, mayors from the province of Lucca and, of course, the mayor of Lucca.
They are followed by representatives of the Lucchesi nel Mondo Association who are so proud and happy to be present in Lucca on this special evening as a tribute to their Lucchese roots. Last but not least come the historical figures in beautiful, colourful medieval costumes – lords, ladies, children, militia and archers.
So great are the number of participants that I’ve probably not even mentioned everybody.
Seeing is believing, however, because if I hadn’t seen this procession I could never have imagined the greatness of it all.
Although there are hundreds, thousands of onlookers, there always appears to be space for everybody. Along the route, the architecture of the buildings, shops and houses is outlined with countless numbers of little glass holders containing lit candles illuminating the procession, adorning Lucca with an unforgettable sight. The front cover is only a taste of what is to come on the 13th of September.
When the whole procession has entered the doors of the cathedral, the mottettone is sung.
This is a piece of polyphonic sacred church music. In the past it was composed for two organs and two choirs.
In fact the mottettone has always been a characteristic of the Feast of the Holy Cross, so much so that it attracted a great number of music lovers, contributing to the international fame of this event.
After the mottettone, people start moving towards the Walls to position themselves for a great view of the spectacular fireworks that conclude a wonderful evening.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: