Anne's Blog

Bolsena’s Infiorate: Floral Wonders for Santa Cristina Misteri

Date: August 4, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

In early August in Bolsena,  Pino and I (fortunately)  ran into Stefano and Fabio, two protagonists of the Misteri di Santa Cristina festival a couple weeks prior.

Both thanked me warmly for having included them in my blog notes on the Misteri and on Trattoria Da Picchietto – and then asked me if we had seen the Infiorata (tapestry of flowers) created below the tomb of Santa Cristina in her church for her feast day?

No, we’d missed it.

I never miss the splendid Infiorate carpeting the winding medieval alleyways and piazzas of Spello for Corpus Domini (sixty days after Easter).  Nor those in Assisi.

But we’d never been in Bolsena for that feast day – and the bolsenesi, too, are master infioratori: evident in the photo Fabio showed me of the late July Santa Cristina floral carpet splendor:

I sighed when I saw it.  Fabio smiled and then said, “Anna, non ti preoccupare…”  He told me not to worry, thinking that due to the cool in the Tomb area, the flowers would probably still be there in all their glory.

I knew where I’d be headed the next morning (Sunday).

While Pino enjoyed his (second) morning espresso in the cafe’ adjacent to the Basilica di Santa Cristina, I set out to seek the Infiorata.

Between Masses, I went into the Basilica to the fascinating and oldest area off to the left.   Catacombs (200 – 600 AD), the early Christina basilica, and  Santa Cristina’s 4th-c tomb are here.

Fabio and Stefano had told me that the flower petal tribute to the Saint carpeted the floor in front of the stone sarcophagus holding the Martyr’s remains.

Rodolfo, volunteer custodian of this area and “holder of the keys,” listened thoughtfully as I told him about having written about the Misteri – but having missed the Infiorata di Santa Cristina.

Then, without hesitation, he grabbed his bunch of keys and told me, “Venga.”

No words to describe the splendor – and the sense of awe when being there, seeing this local tribute to Bolsena’s beloved patron saint so lovingly created by the townspeople. Right there – at the foot of her 4th-century burial place:

I wondered which flowers they’d used for her royal blue garment, exactly like her clothing on the 15th c- sacred statue in the Basilica, to the left of the main altar:

….and that one carried in procession on July 23 and July 24th during the two-day festival evoking the young Saint’s 4th-c martyrdom, the Misteri di Santa Cristina:

I asked Rodolfo where that processional statue of Santa Cristina was kept when not carried July 23 and 24 in procession.  “A casa mia,” he replied gravely….and then turned to give change to the tourists purchasing items in the Basilica gift shop…

I doubted that.

Curiosity resolved as I left the church, passing the sacristy.

I peeked in and saw a priest about to  dress for the next Mass and behind him was the processional statue.  He kindly allowed a couple photos:


I’ll look forward to next  year when Santa Cristina will again be carried in procession for the extraordinary Misteri di Santa Cristina.

And next year, I’ll also be sure to head into her Tomb in the Basilica to see the Infiorata splendor.

Read about the 13th c miracle at Bolsena, origin of the Feast of Corpus Domini

Click here to read about – and see! –  the Misteri di Santa Cristina

Read about Trattoria Da Picchietto, a favorite Bolsena eating spot

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