The festivity of Saint John the Baptist

Festivity of
Saint John the Baptist 2001

The coming out from the church
Picture A. Fragalà

The statue of S. John Baptist
To carve the statue was mr. Lo Faro, inhabitant of Acitrezza who staying in a room of the palace of the prince of Reggio. He used like model a member of the Gilletti’s family from Acitrezza. It is narrated that Lo Faro didn’t get any contacts with anyone until the end of the work, receiving some food through the roof. (first half of 1700)

The Saint on the altar of the church

The “Vara”

The 24th June of every year it celebrates to Acitrezza the patron of the place: S. John the Baptist. At 8 o' clock, the band, with its entry in the town, gives the start of the festivity of the Saint who christened Jesus. To the continuation of the band, there are many children with red and yellow scarfs in honour of the Saint. While people are assembled in the main public square, the faithfuls are getting inside the already full church. The band stops in front of the church and the fireworks are already heard that mean the start of the Mass and the revealed of the wooden statue of S.John. The Mass begins, the words of the parish priest are  only heard. Then: boom, boom…… incessant fireworks, yellow and red scarfs waving and: “diciamolo tutti con tutto il cuore”, and the crowd of faithful says: “EVVIVA SAN GIOVANNI”. The sparkling statue full of gold that has been donated from the faithful, is revealed. The band plays joyful songs while the women dressed of red, with a yellow rope like belt, come down the stairs of the church. The statue remains exposed on the altar of the church to permit to everyone to see it and say a prayer. In the afternoon, there is the pantomime of the “U’ PISCI A MARI”, performed inside the port of Acitrezza.
When the representation is finished, the acts go to have a shower and then the bells begin to toll and the public square "G. Verga" in front of the church is full of faithfuls. The tolling is incessant, the church nearly bursts because is very busy. While the “vara”: the building that will carry for the streets of Acitrezza the saint who has been placed in front of the stairs of the church. The fireworks are loud. Scarves waving in the air at the coming out of S. John from the church. Placed on the “vara”, adorned with multicoloured flowers, accompanied by band, it begins its tour for the roads of the south of the town. The toll of the priest's little bell means the stop of the "vara" to allow to the faithful to give a gift and to kiss the statue of S. John. While the “vara” is going around thetown, it arrives to the “calata dell’angelo” (the descent of the angel): an angel, tied up to a special wire, keep in his hand some money, collected by the faithful, comes down slowly from the sky to reach the statue of the saint, the band plays joyful notes and the “vara” leaves again. While Acitrezza is full of artistic illumination, people begin to newly fill up the church waiting for the back of the saint to the church. On the main street, two wings of crowd have been already formed to wait the back of the “vara”. The Saint under the artistic lights is more sparkling than never, left the building, he begins slowly the back towards the high altar. Then everybody goes on seafront to see the closing fireworks. The first day of festivity is finished, but from the first hours of the following morning, fireworks give the alarm clock to the inhabitants. In the afternoon the “vara” with S. John inside goes around the northern streets of Acitrezza. The evening is coming, inside the church is impossible to enter because there are many people who cram it. The bells begin to toll, the “vara” is already close to the church. Lots of scarfs receive the coming out of the saint from the church: "EVVIVA SAN GIOVANNI" is the sound that is spread in the church with the noise of fireworks. Slowly, the statue goes back to the high altar, the two small doors that they close the statue until the next year and they begin their slow movement. People, tired, by the warmth and the end of the festivity, begin to cry for the wooden statue that comes to close it in the high altar. Nobody stops the hands moving the yellow and red scarfs. Suddenly the small doors of the high altar are closed. The festivity for this year is ended, people see the fireworks that light up the sky over the “Faraglioni”, while the “vara” returns to the “casa della vara” (Vara’s Home).


Copyright© 2000-2002 Grasso Giovanni - Antonio Guarnera. Tradotto da Mario Grasso. Translated by Mario Grasso. Tutti i diritti sono riservati. All rights reserved. Vietata la riproduzione anche parziale

Renewed: 04-02-02 .