photo © Louise Shapcott
The Feast of Santa Maria Assunta in Atina
The Feast of Santa Maria Assunta is held in Atina each year on the 15th August. This feast celebrates the Assumption of the body and soul of the Virgin Mary into heaven. She is one of the patrons of the town of Atina, the other being San Marco. The Cathedral of Atina is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and houses the treasured statue of the Madonna surrounded by angels. This is kept in a special niche within the church, protected by a glass door. A week or so before the actual feast day the statue is removed from its normal resting place so that the Madonna can be put on view for all to see. During the week several religious ceremonies are held.
Also housed in the cathedral is the statue of the “Madonna Dormiente” or “Sleeping Madonna”. On the eve of the feast day, this statue encased in an ornate sarcophagus, is taken out of the the cathedral for a special procession around the town.
The Statue of Santa Maria Assunta
On the actual day of the feast the statue of Santa Maria Assunta is manuoeuvred onto a wooden platform and carefully carried out through the main entrance of the cathedral.
At one time the statue would have been carried by a team of strong men throughout the streets of Atina. However nowadays a truck is generally used for this purpose. The procession sets off from the cathedral in Piazza San Marconi. It is lead by a team of young men wearing white cassocks and bearing lanterns and staffs. Behind them march the town band playing various musical pieces along the way. Ahead of the vehicle bearing the sacred statue walks the parish priest. Many of the dignitories and townsfolk of Atina follow behind the Madonna, in an reverent procession through several districts of the town. Finally the procession makes its way back to the cathedral where prayers are said for the town.
The Fireworks Display
The evening culminates in a magnificent colourful firework display. Some beautiful photos below by Italo Caira.
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