For the second consecutive year the City of Gubbio is forced, despite itself, due to Covid, to give up its most beloved centuries-old tradition. The Festa dei Ceri, which traditionally takes place continuously on May 15 of every year since 1160 in honor of the patron Saint Ubaldo, will not take place even tomorrow because the conditions of the health emergency do not allow gatherings. “Also this year we have been forced to cancel the Corsa dei Ceri: I never imagined having to give up this glorious tradition twice during my administrative mandate”, said the mayor of Gubbio, Filippo Stirati to Adnkronos. “Over the centuries the Corsa dei Ceri was canceled in the twentieth century only during the two world wars and not completely completely – recalls Stirati – Moreover, after the end of the Great War, in 1919, in full Spanish fever pandemic, the Festa dei Ceri it was held regularly. I am sorry that in 2020 and 2021 our feast dedicated to the patron Saint Ubaldo was reduced to the essentials. For me it is also a pain, a personal regret as mayor who has touched this cancellation twice . With the mind we Egubini are already in 2022, when we will make, I am sure, an even more beautiful party “. The mayor of Gubbio underlines on the eve:” Our city lives with great bitterness, with sadness I would like to say, this lack of Corsa dei Ceri. It is not a good time for our community, which was marked a few days ago by a tragedy in a company, where an explosion caused two victims “.” So, due to Covid, the cancellation of the Corsa dei Ceri was in things – underlines the mayor Stirati – Among the citizens there is awareness of the moment we are living. But it is not easy for the egubinians to surrender to the evidence: and this is because the desire to celebrate is part of their own secular historical-religious roots. Being happy, celebrating as symbolically testifies to the very essence of the Festa dei Ceri is, I would say, in the collective heritage of the Egubini for generations “. The municipal administration has, however, saved” some essential religious rites “of the Festa dei Ceri, observes the mayor, also pointing out that this year they can be held in the presence, “also due to the relaxation of the more restrictive measures that instead were in force a year ago in the same period”. The 2021 edition of the Festa dei Ceri starts tomorrow (Saturday May 15) at 8.30 with the homage to the dead ceraioli in the civic cemetery. Immediately afterwards the mayor pay a tribute to the mausoleum of the ’40 martyrs’, in honor of the victims of the Nazi massacre of 22 June 1944. Tomorrow afternoon, at the presence of citizens, at 17, the bishop Luciano Paolucci Bedini will give the blessing to the city. Sunday, May 16, at 11.15, the Pontifical of Sant’Ubaldo will be celebrated in the Cathedral in the presence of the bishop. Finally, on Sunday at 5 pm Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo with the homage to the Three Candles and the urn of the Patron. “Last year there was some excess – remembers the mayor Stirati – on May 15 with a few hundred people who poured into the street anyway despite the absence of the Corsa dei Ceri. For this reason, tomorrow the city will be manned by the police with the coordination of the police chief and the prefect with measures aimed at controlling the territory in order to prevent gatherings “.” However, if I think back to what happened on May 15, 2020 – explains the mayor – the pleasant episode of gathering in Corso Garibaldi, immediately stigmatized and condemned, then had no health consequences: in fact, the infections did not grow or there were outbreaks. Having said that, exaggerations and gatherings must not only be condemned but also avoided and, if possible, prevented. I am convinced that the citizens this year will stick to the rules more. we are in the yellow zone, citizens will be able to take to the streets responsibly and also gather with the necessary precautions, the necessary distances, in Piazza Grande to receive the bishop’s blessing. Tomorrow there will be people on the street in Gubbio like almost everywhere in Italy, but I trust in the responsibility of all my fellow citizens “. The story of the Festa dei Ceri The festival of the three majestic wooden statues carried on the shoulders at crazy speed by the ceraioli of Sant ‘Ubaldo, San Giorgio and Sant’Antonio have very distant traditions: in the bull of 5 March 1192, with which Pope Celestine III canonized Sant’Ubaldo Baldassini (1085-1160), the Eugubini were invited to celebrate the feast of their patron with “hilariter “, that is with joy. This adverb has not been found in any other papal bull of the Middle Ages. According to historians, this would mean that the pontiff would have acknowledged that in Gubbio there was already a cheerful and jubilant tone among the people on the occasion of the feast dedicated to the patron saint of the city. The first document of the feast in honor of Sant’Ubaldo is contained in the ‘Statutum Eugubii’ of 1338. The Captains of the Corporations of the Art of Masons, of Goods ari and the Asinari were required, on the afternoon of May 15, to summon their workers to the market square. Once collected, all together they had to go through the streets of the city and finally climb up to the church of Sant’Ubaldo carrying “iubilantes et gaudentes tre Cereos Magnos”. Subsequent references are contained in the ‘Briefs of the Petraioli’s Art’ (1584) and the ‘Merciari’ (1540). The Festa dei Ceri also went through moments of crisis linked to historical dramas. In 1799 the occupation of Gubbio by the French troops was greeted with hostility by the population. The occupiers abolished the University of Masons, the Congregation of Merciaries and their ‘functions’, including the Festa dei Ceri. While the ‘Masons’ and the peasants defied the law, the ‘Merciari’ refused to bring the Cero di San Giorgio: the ‘Blacksmiths’ and ‘Carpenters’ bravely replaced them, thus avoiding the interruption of tradition. In the nineteenth century, when the study of folklore spread also in Italy, the press took a closer look at popular traditions and the first images of the Festa dei Ceri were disseminated through the numerous periodicals, which soon gained attention in our country. The Ceri di Gubbio thus appeared on “L’Illustrazione Italiana”, “La Tribuna Illustrata”, “La Domenica del Corriere” and also gained the covers. In this period the municipal administration understood the importance of the festival and, in a decade, the three Ceri were rebuilt from scratch (Sant’Ubaldo in 1883, San Giorgio in 1888, Sant’Antonio in 1893). In 1891 the Municipality entrusted the task of managing the festival to the University of Masons and Stonecutters. In 1900 the statue of Sant’Ubaldo replaced the ancient Gonfalone that for centuries had been carried in procession by the religious, before the great afternoon race: after the frantic ‘exhibition’, the Ceri were raised from the ground in via Savelli Della Porta, and resting on artistic bases. In 1904 the ‘ceraioli’ in order to more easily distinguish the group they belonged to they girded their necks with yellow, blue and red handkerchiefs. But the most radical change took place in 1908. After centuries of divisions, the three Ceri were raised all three together near the church of San Pietro. During the first and second world wars, the Festa dei Ceri suffered a forced pause. After the second war, the ‘Ceri Committee’ was formed which in 1950 became the ‘Maggio Eugubino Association’. This paid particular attention to the party and carried out an intense action to make it known in Italy and abroad. In the last 70 years, the Festa dei Ceri has been the driving force that has allowed Gubbio to be increasingly appreciated for its architectural beauties, for its suggestive corners and in particular for its popular traditions. Umbria region is centered on the three candles launched in a race aimed at the glorification of Sant’Ubaldo: it consists in transporting the candles from the city center, from the church of Santa Maria Nuova, to the basilica dedicated to the saint. The Ceri are three gigantic wooden structures weighing about four quintals each, surmounted respectively by the statues of Sant’Ubaldo (protector of masons and stonecutters), San Giorgio (protector of artisans and merchants) and Sant’Antonio Abate (protector of peasants and students). These candles are carried on the shoulder and running along the streets of the historic center until they reach the basilica of Sant’Ubaldo on Mount Ingino.The route sees the ‘ceraioli’ engaged in this wild race followed by a crowd that participates with enthusiasm and emotion . An evocative ceremonial precedes the race: in Piazza Grande, at noon, the spectacular raising of the Ceri and their three turns of the square takes place. After carrying out the exhibition through the streets of the city, the Ceri are taken to via Savelli Della Porta until the actual race. The families of the ceraioli “Compared to last year, when a climate of surprise reigned, now known a climate of resignation for the second consecutive cancellation of the Festa dei Ceri. Certainly a second stop was not expected, but reality has been becoming aware for many months now “Ubaldo Minelli, president of the Santubaldari family, told AdnKronos, the first group carrying the Cero dedicated to Sant’Ubaldo. “The Festa dei Ceri is a fundamental tradition for Gubbio and the fact that the Corsa cannot be held for the second year in a row makes the mood of the Gubbio people full of sadness, of very deep bitterness – adds Minelli – The Festa dei Ceri represents the DNA, the very essence of eugubinity. The Festa dei Ceri, for centuries, has been the element that regenerates egunibinity, our community that has roots very deep. We are all convinced that two years of hiatus will be swept away by our great party that we hope to be able to celebrate again in 2022 “.
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