Anne's Blog

Calendimaggio: A Blessed Beginning

Date: May 11, 2015 - categories: , , , - 6 Comments

There’s a single religious moment in Assisi’s four-day medieval celebration of spring, rooted in pagan rituals: the blessing of the banners of the town’s two rival factions, la Parte de Sopra (“Upper Assisi”) and la Parte de Sotto (“Lower Assisi”).

All the partaioli of Lower Assisi, gathered at the Basilica of San Francesco for the blessings while the Parte de Sopra contingent united in front of the Cathedral of San Rufino, focal point of “our side.” Si! (Our three children participated with full passione in Calendimaggio as little ones, dressed in medieval garb, cheering their hearts out for “Sopra”).

Basilica di San Francesco

Basilica di San Francesco

Cathedral of San Rufino

Cathedral of San Rufino

Proud father and daughter in front of San Rufino

Proud father and daughter in front of San Rufino

Lady Spring candidates in front of San Rufino

Lady Spring candidates in front of San Rufino

That same passione was palpable yesterday as Sopra’s drummers beat out Calendimaggio emotions and our crossbowers grouped to file into the Cathedral. Lords took the hands of ladies, young dame in rich velvet blue costumes joined the parade of medieval personages, the sculpted doorway of our 12th-c cathedral, an elegant backdrop.

An elderly nobleman before San Rufino

An elderly nobleman before San Rufino

William, an Assisi crossbower - of Sopra!

William, an Assisi crossbower – of Sopra!

The banners of Sopra

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Sopra’s drum corps

Sopra’s drum corps

When the great central doors opened, nobility filed into our 12th-century church, heads held high. Even the small children in medieval dress emanated solemnity.

All solemn during the blessing

All solemn during the blessing

Nobility parade into the Cathedral

Nobility parade into the Cathedral

Our five candidates for Madonna Primavera (“Lady Spring”) were there in the apse area, too, close to the three banners laid out in front of the altar.

Lady Spring candidates in the apse area of the Cathedral

Lady Spring candidates in the apse area of the Cathedral

The priest flung holy water on the banners, blessing them – and then announced the official start of Calendimaggio, wishing la Parte de Sopra serenity during the festivities…and una bella vittoria.
The applause seemed to lift the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling.

Applause all around at the blesssing time

Applause all around at the blesssing time

The priest blesses the three banners of Upper Assisi

The priest blesses the three banners of Upper Assisi

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Emotion at the time of blessings

Emotion at the time of blessings

Applause raises the rooftops

Applause raises the rooftops

Viva Sopra!

Read – and see! – euphoric medieval passione in Assisi during Calendimaggio
Read all about Calendimaggio
Click here to read about – and see – “Calendimaggio fever”
Read about more about this “festa di amore”
Click here to see – and FEEL! – Calendimaggio splendor
Read about the passione lived during Calendimaggio – and not only.
Read about a late April a pre-Calendimaggio Assisi event
Click here to read about – and see – the “blessed” beginning of Calendimaggio
Find out the signs that Calendimaggio is “just around the corner”
Read about an early May Umbrian festival not to miss
Click here to read about passione in Umbria’s astounding May festivals
Read about Calendimaggio preparations, usually with Gina…

6 Comments

  • Judi Dalton says:

    Great pictures. It’s a glorious event

  • Janet Eidem says:

    Anne, I would love to know something of the costume construction. Are they made by the participants, passed on from year to year, commercially made? Thanks for this great coverage. It was a privilege to be in Assisi at this time. The Sopra drum corps is phenomenal!

  • Kathy Kelsey says:

    So much fun! The costumes are so great, as is the spirit of Assisi during Calendimaggio!

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Janet, some people own their costumes..others rent..others have them made according to norms for clothing in the Middle Ages

    Kathy, glad to share with you the passion!

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Janet..some own costumes, others rent, other have them made according to medieval norms

    Kelseys, glad to share the passion with you all

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Judi, so glad you were in our Assisi apt for ALL the festival..you and Glenn are now “Assisani” !!! ;

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