Luminaria di Santa Croce–A Festival in Italy

by LaLaItalia

In Lucca, a medieval walled city in the Tuscany region of Italy, an illusionary festival of lights called the Luminaria di Santa Croce, is held in September. It is part of the traditional Santa Croce Festival which is called “Settembre Lucchese” in Italian, meaning “Lucca’s September.”

The origin of the festival is said to be either a traditional event from when
merchants would come and go to the town, or as a religious festival celebrated
in rural areas.

During the festival, various events are held along with the festival of lights,
including music concerts, opera, cultural events, sports events, and fairs.

Located at the center of the festival is “il Volto Santo,” a wooden sculpture of
Christ. The sculpture is housed inside the Lucca Cathedral. According to legend,
the sculptor was Nicodemus, a disciple of Jesus. It was lost some time in the 8th
century, but was found and carried back to the town in the year 782. Since then,
Lucca has been a place where pilgrims from all over Europe visit.

On the evening of September 13, the citizens of Lucca, dressed in their Medieval
costumes paraded to the center of the town. They went to the Lucca Cathedral
and prayed to the “il Volto Santo”.

During the procession, the lights were turned off. People placed candles in
front of their houses and on signs of shops. Churches, belfries and palazzi
were also decorated with many candles.

Lucca is a beautiful town, preserving historical streetscapes and surrounded
by walls of the 16th to 17th centuries. The town was originally explored by
Etruscans, and unified by ancient Rome around 180 B.C. Since then, Romans have
made up a large part of it’s population.

After the Western Roman Empire was destroyed, the town was pillaged by Odoacer.
In 553 A.D., it was besieged by the Eastern Roman Empire. It played an important
role as a city and as a fortress.

Through such historical transitions, Lucca was incorporated into the Kingdom of
Italy, established in 1861.

The town features Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro, the plaza of the former amphitheater
of ancient Rome, and the opera composer Giacomo Puccini, whose 150th birthday
is being celebrated in the year 2008. Tourists from around the world visit the
town and it’s many Puccini-inspired areas .

Nobody knows exactly when the Luminaria di Santa Croce began and when the candle
decorations started. However, the candles set among the historic buildings in
Lucca make many people feel as if they were in ancient times.

 

 

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