La Festa Dei Ceri - Doctrine
By Elvezio Farneti, Gubbio, Italy
Have you ever wondered what the Festa dei Ceri is and what it represents?
In these questions and answers, without fear of being wrong, we can say that the Festa dei Ceri is a Feast of spiritual and human feelings of the entire Eugubino people offered as a gift to our Patron, Saint Ubaldo, after having lived intensely, passionately, and joyously toward the Ceri.
The Three Ceri, sacred symbols, which through Ceraiolo, symbolize, the birth, life, and death, and represent the individuality of and collective offering of the community.
What do we offer to our Patron Saint?
Simply, our faith and our humanity toward this symbolic representation of our life, that every 15th of May, we put it on the calendar, a united stage to the world, wonderful and very symbolic, very very inherent to our City of Gubbio.
Why annually renew the offering?
To thank, honor, venerate, and to seek the protection of Sant' Ubaldo. To achieve the common good and Reconciliation. Do not forget: Sant 'Ubaldo is the Saint of Reconciliation. This unanimous expression of the people, is renewed annually on the eve of the anniversary of the death of Sant’ Ubaldo, which occurred May 16, 1160, in honor and glory of the Saint himself.
What are the sentiments with which this offertory is performed?
They are faith, joy, love, friendship, solidarity, unity of purpose, respect for oneself and for others, sacrifice, humility, sincerity, etc., that all those feelings of living a good life form the foundation of a civilized Ceraiolo.
Who is the minister of this offering?
The entire Gubbio population is represented through the Ceraioli (carriers and non-carriers), even by all those who in any manner and in accordance with their ability and capacity to participate in achieving the common good for the good of the Cero. Ceraioli are the privileged bearers of the Cero, who first, must necessarily adhere to the following rules of behavior, which are:
Respect for elders, humility, sacrifice, solidarity and fun. Passionate search for the common good (the good of the Ceri). To not be self-serving but to always speak in the plural when the subject of the dialogue is the Cero. To love their land and traditions. Nothing overpowering, straight-forward talk. Ask for help when necessary. Have faith and devotion to Sant’ Ubaldo. Respect the opinions of others. Face the risks and dangers, aware of your personal physical and intellectual capacity. Individualism and egoism prejudice the Offering, whether individual or collective. These ceraioli principles are the core values ceraioli face in life with dignity and not just on the Festa dei Ceri but also everyday life, private and public. To be Ceraioli is a human condition of privilege and pride that takes us back through our entire existence. It is evident, therefore, that the Festa dei Ceri is not a game or hobby and much less than a competitive rivalry, like some people believe. The presumed rivalry between different Ceraioli of different Saints is supported by the community in that a better offering of one results in a better offering of the collective.
The ritual of the Festa dei Ceri.
Preceded by the liturgy of the Church and a three-day novena to honor Sant' Ubaldo, and announced by the sound of the big bell of the Piazza dei Consoli, the organizational phase culminates with the appointment of the main characters of the Festa (the Capitani, the Capodieci and the Ceri carriers), the Rite will be represented in a single day , May 15 of each year, the eve of the anniversary of the death of Our Patron Sant' Ubaldo. The sound of the big bell announces the inevitable events and calls all to gather to renew the Offering.
Waking up the Captains and Capodieci.
In this first phase of the reenactment, the Drummers march through town with sounds and fashionable costumes. Immediately following the waking is a sentimental remembrance with a visit to the cemetery. Written on the wreath placed in the cemetery is “Through the songs and the prayers of the living Ceraioli, the deceased Ceraioli are eternally in our memory." With this dedication it is meant to reaffirm the indissoluble link between the past and the present, with the promise that it remains indelibly alive in all participants in each moment of life, present and future.
Next, the Ceraioli Mass and the Procession of the Saints represents a great moment of spirituality and faith. Then at breakfast the Ceraioli eat baccala which indicates a sign of penance on the Eve of the Feast.
The rising (L’Alzata), is the moment of union and birth. Through the actions of the Capodieci, they symbolize lay priests of an ancient ritual rite as old as the world (conception and birth), the parts of the Cero (the Saint, Cero and Barella) are united by means of the pin. The launch of the Brocca, and breaking on the ground announce the birth of the Cero and symbolizes ours. The horizontal Ceri assume the vertical position, whereby the temporal life becomes the spiritual.
The Ceri, just born, pay tribute to all those who for various reasons can not participate in the rite of the offering (the sick, elderly and paralyzed), also to the families and people that honored them in Life and who for their glory they dedicated a great part of their existence. The sentiment of this reenactment, represented this way, can not be measured. It either exists or doesn’t exist.
Parking the Saints.
The stationary Ceri on wooden supports, indicates the adolescent stage of their lives, and receive the homage of the population, and they are eyed for their beauty and majesty, and gain encouragement to face in the best way the danger of the remaining periods of life. Even Ceraioli bearers, who are united with the Ceri, live these special moments with trepidation, meditation, seeking acquisition of tips and advice and assume the responsibility to choose the best ways to reenact the most spectacular phase of the Offering, which is the path of life.
The word should not be misunderstood. Absolutely not, an agonistic competition, but simply represents the stages of human life: youth (represented by the calata), maturity (represented by the Piazza 40 Martiri, San Martino, Via dei Consoli, the three turns, greeting the City and Via XX Settembre), and old age (represented by the first and second Buchetto, and the mountain road). Today, we hurry because the Ceraioli bearers have increased in number compared to years past and it also indicates life seen as being lived frantically and therefore is represented as a race. Never attempt or pursue overtaking. The Ceri can not be passed.
Arrival on top of the mountain.
Conclusion of the offering of our life to the Patron Saint.
Moment of transition. The Capodieci, who a few short hours before had joined in the rite of the Alzata uniting the three parts (Saint, Cero, & Barella), return again to divide them positioning the Ceri and Barelli at the feet of Saint Ubaldo. This is designed to represent reconciliation and the spiritual and physical embrace with Sant' Ubaldo in anticipation of our future resurrection. Everything is in the song of "O Lume De La Fede."