Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Feast of St. Rocco, Gioiosa Ionica, Italy


As I wrote in my last blog post--click here--my husband's hometown of Gioiosa Ionica, in Calabria, Italy, celebrates the Feast of Saint Rocco, which is officially August16th, but celebrated in this town on the last Sunday of August. Saint Rocco is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church as the protector against plague and contagious diseases.  Saint Rocco (also referred to as St. Roch) was born around 1340 in Montpellier, France and performed many healing miracles throughout his life. To read more about him click here and here.   (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge if click on)



We visited the early 17th century Church of Saint Rocco a day before the feast.  Inside we saw the statue of the saint that would be paraded through the town and to three churches on his feast day in great celebration and fanfare. The wooden statue was carved in Naples in 1749, and transported to the town by ship.Thousands of people return to Gioiosa Ionica for the event, and we were excited to be here to see it. The Feast of Saint Rocco in Gioiosa Ionica dates back to at least 1583. He became the patron saint of the town in 1743 when a bubonic plague outbreak miraculously ceased when prayers to St. Rocco intervened. 


For an entire week before the feast day, the entire town of Gioiosa Ionica is lit with festival lights. There are carnival rides and musical concerts in the squares all week long. Long processions of drummers march through the town for many hours during the day and in the evening, drumming a fast rhythm. It is a long tradition and a form of devotion. Tourists and locals from adjoining towns begin to gather in the town until there are thousands of people in attendance the last day of the festival.


Vendors come from many miles away and set up booths along the main streets where all kinds of fruits and vegetables, condiments, candies, nuts, dried beans, meats, ceramics, toys, and kitchenware are sold.  A sense of anticipation and joy builds and builds as the week progresses closer to the upcoming procession of the statue of Saint Rocco through the town on his feast day celebration.






Finally, the big day arrives! My husband and I watch as the statue of Saint Rocco is carried out of the Church of Saint Rocco and paraded to two other churches throughout the town. Masses are said at each church, and the procession of the statue lasts most of the day




 In the facebook video above, shows the statue being carried and a pause in one of the town piazzas, with the sound of the drums playing all around it.click here to view on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook page if you can't see it or hear sound here, 



There is great devotion to Gioiosa Ionica's patron Saint Rocco year round, but the constant sound of drums, the large crowds, and the groups of people celebrating by dancing the tarantella are thrilling to experience in person on the feast day. 


We also saw a musician playing a traditional zampogna, a bagpipe type instrument played in Southern Italy. This one was made out of goatskin. If you'd like to hear how this sounds--click here to view the video on my Mille Fiori Facebook page. 



As the feast day celebration progressed, my husband and I returned to our bed and breakfast room to watch the procession of the statue from our balcony. In the collage above you can see some of the vendor booths lining the street, and the large crowds all the way to the end of the town, where the procession ends.  
This was such an exciting day for my husband, as he has not been able to participate in this feast day celebration since his youth. He was especially happy that I was there to witness it, along with many of his other relatives who were in Gioiosa Ionica for the week.


After the statue is returned to the Church of Saint Rocco, the festival ends with firework show for almost 45 minutes. We watched the fireworks from our balcony, enjoying the end of a wonderful and memorable day.


We visited a few other towns in Calabria during our visit and I will be showing them in future blog posts. We also flew north to Genoa, Italy, to visit family and toured not only Genoa but also Verona, Padua, and Bologna. Many stories, photos, and videos to come!


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39 comments:

Gillena Cox said...

Always interesting to read about the lives of Saints.
Happy Mosaic Monday

much love...

eileeninmd said...

Hello, the St Rocco celebration looks like a fun time for you and your hubby. A great time to be visiting Italy. The zampogna is an interesting instrument. The crowds of people do add to the excitement of the celebration. Wonderful photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week!

Cathy Keller said...

This was most enlightening and entertaining. Anticipating your next post and photos. I’ve only been to Padua, but it was remarkable. Wishing you well!

Maggie said...

What a fabulous event to witness, I love all the vibrant photos of what must have been the highlight of your visit to Italy. I can imagine how thrilled your husband must have been to be there once again and to share it all with you. Looking forward to seeing more of your travels through Italy soon.
Happy Mosaic Monday.

Snap said...

What a trip! What a celebration! I love being an armchair traveler through your images. Thank you! Happy Monday!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

That must have been amazing!! I love Italy. Your pictures are wonderful.

Tom said...

...what a colorful, exciting time. Thanks for taking me along!

Tamar SB said...

Wowza! That is amazing! Thank you for sharing.

photodoug said...

Pat, we could use Saint Rocco’s help during this flu season. Thanks for sharing.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Pat, the joy and excitement shine through every word and picture! You're a great tour guide. I can only imagine how wonderful it was for your husband to return home and witness this special day again -- and to share it with you, best of all!
I haven't visited any of the links yet, because I didn't want to go away and forget to comment -- but I know I'll enjoy seeing (and hearing) more about this amazing celebration.

Linda W. said...

How fun to be there for the big festival. Enjoyed all your photos.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I was going to say the same thing that Sallie said...about feeling the excitement in your description of the event. Beautiful photos. I'm so glad you got to be there with your husband and some of his family! Thanks for sharing this personal experience. Hugs, Diane

Daniela said...

Dearest Pat,
I'm so glad to read that you've enjoyed such a wonderful time in our Italy!

Thanking you for sharing another so beautiful post of yours,
with always outstanding shots,
I'm sending blessings of joy on your new week

XOXO Dany

Sally Wessely said...

Everything about this post is simply amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How great your husband could experience this feast again. it's time that saints will emerge today (it does not matter which church, as long as they believe only in God's Word) and do healing miracles as in the past! That keeps our faith vibrant and alive:)
Later this week I'll watch the video Pat - many thanks for sharing this feast of Saint Rocco with us!

The Furry Gnome said...

That was fascinating! Never knew there were 'bagpipes' in southern Italy!

Angie said...

Pat - this is my kind of celebration! Lights, food vendors, drummers, bagpipes (of a sort), saints, dancing in the streets ... (need I go on?) The smile on your husband's face would light the town if it wasn't already! And how cool that you could watch the procession and the fireworks from your balcony? I am hankering for some Italian food right now, thanks to your photos!

Photo Cache said...

I have never heard of this saint before. Thanks for the education.

Worth a Thousand Words

handmade by amalia said...

Looks like a wonderful festival, just the sort of thing I like. Lucky you.
Amalia
xo

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Looks like a really fun festival! thanks so much for sharing all these cool images with us. I feel like I am right there in the art of all the action.

http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.de/2018/01/strasbourg.html

NC Sue said...

I had never heard of Saint Rocco. The festival looks colorful and like there is much fun.
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/01/fun-with-textures-in-photoshop.html

Jeanie said...

What a perfect time to visit, Pat. Oh, my! How exciting to be part of this. St. Rocco is not on my radar so it was particularly interesting. All the food and vendors and great festivities. The church is stunning as so many of the European churches are. I love this series of posts!

ellen b. said...

What an experience that festival was. Glad the two of you could experience it. That food!! Wowzers.

Lorrie said...

Sounds like a great time was had by all. The zampogna is very unique!

Jim said...

So interesting.

Jill said...

It would truly be fascinating to attend a festival in Italy for me - as I've never done. So interesting - and it looks like, joyful, also. #TPThursday

Lady Fi said...

Fascinating shots.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

So incredibly ornate and beautiful! Wonderful shots, thanks for sharing them.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Beautiful church and I enjoyed the festivities.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Marvelous post - I enjoyed reading perusing the photos immensely!

I have been to Italy several times and have been part of several Saint celebrations, but I've never seen this one. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to experience - you certainly make it appealing!
Thanks for sharing - and happy Pink Saturday!

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

You captured the festival brilliantly! I felt like I was there. Did you see the name of you blog on the honey at the market? How exciting is that? It was interesting to see the goat skin instrument. I had to look twice before discovering what it was. #TPThursday

Pam Richardson said...

Pat, this was the perfect time to visit! I could sense the excitement in your photos! I will be looking forward to more of your travels to Italy and thank you for sharing!

Curtains in My Tree said...


I love the celebrations of past Saints and would love to attend a festival for one.
I enjoyed this story
Thanks

Jelica - A Pretty Fix - Craft Blog said...

Such an amazing event to experience. You captured it in such a way that it makes me want to go and visit one day. Thanks for sharing :)

Grammy Dee | Grammy's Grid said...

I enjoyed reading about you experiencing the Feast of Saint Rocco. Sounds like you had a great time! Thank you for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty 24! I shared your post on Fb, G+, Pn, and Tw ♥

J said...

Like each of your other posts, I felt like I was right there with you, enjoying the experience! Amazing! I really appreciated this as a devout Catholic and animal lover. My understanding is that St. Rocco is also the patron of dogs - as pictured at his side in your first image. This is because they comforted him when he was sick and dying. Thanks for a wonderful journey through the streets of Italy!

Jann Olson said...

Oh wow! Loved the photos. I think India would be an amazing place to visit. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
hugs,
Jann

Jan Robinson said...

I've been in Italy on a particular Saints Day - in Sicily and another in Seville in Spain. I've experienced nothing like it before. I can see that St. Rocco's is similar. Your photos really show what these celebrations are like, I can almost feel I am there. Thanks for linking up.

Angelique Ouellette-Tower said...

This fun post is a FAMILY feature on the March You're the STAR blog hop: http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/2018/03/youre-star-week3-family-march-2018.html
Thanks
Angie