On May 3 in Santa Fiora is celebrated the Feast of the Holy Crucifix, also known as Festa delle Croci. As in other spring festivals that take place on Mount Amiata, even in the Festa delle Croci moments of high spirituality, consisting of religious functions and rites, are integrated with re-enactments of ancient folk traditions, such as the traditional fair of goods and livestock and gift of the lover’s cedar to the beloved woman to declare her love.
The central moment of the Festa delle Croci is the evocative afternoon procession, in which the wooden crucifix is carried in procession through the streets of the historical center of Santa Fiora, flanked by flags, emblems, signs filled with votive offerings and other three large crosses of wood, gnarled, over 5 meters high and empty inside, brought by the Cyreneans, representing the communities of faithful of Pieve, Suffragio and Sant’Agostino. That of the Cyrenean, once upon a time, was a very contested role because it was considered a symbol of strength and virility. In fact, the Cyreneans have the task of carrying the big suspended crosses, trying to keep them in balance, after having supported them on a leather suspenders tied to their waist.
The Festa delle Croci of Santa Fiora is linked to the cult of the Miraculous Crucifix, which has become the object of worship and devotion by the population of Santa Fiora and neighboring countries since the 1600s, when he addressed Sister Passitea Crogi with a human voice. Capuchin nun who founded the convent of the cloistered nuns of Santa Fiora, after the carpenter who had carved it, dissatisfied with the work, threw it into the woodshed to become firewood.
Other miraculous facts are attributed to the Crucifix. The most striking is the sudden appearance in the convent of the living walls, after he was taken to Siena to ask for the grace to stop the cholera epidemic that was putting a strain on the population of Santa Fiora. Another miraculous fact attributed to the Crucifix of Passitea is to have protected the population of Santa Fiora from the dramatic consequences of the earthquake of 3 May 1778.
Credit Photo: Gigliola Caliendo