Preparing my September 26th hour-long ZOOM presentation “Assisi’s Calendimaggio: From Roman Rites to Medieval Splendor” has been a challenge: so much to share! Just the subject of the banners and flags alone could be a full lecture. Flags are certainly an integral part of the splendid Assisi medieval May festival, Calendimaggio.
Since ancient times, man has felt the need to be easily visible and his power evident to all – and recognizable from a distance. Assirians, Egyptians, and Persians raised banners in their military expeditions depicting images of their history. Egyptians depicted the sphinx, the Greeks of Athens, the owl.
The Roman legionnaires carried banners bearing animals or sacred symbols – often the eagle and regal gold-bordered purple banners were bestowed on officials and prefects as sign of valor.
With the fall of the Roman Empire (5th AD)- and the decline of the concept of statehood – the symbols become representative of noble families – or sections of a town.
When one day you join us for this magnificent festival, do note the honored position of the flags of Sopra (blue) and Sotto (red) – as well as the three vessilli of each Parte – during various moments of the Calendimaggio splendor: