Each June, the city is buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Everyone is out in full force, enthusiastically preparing for this most important celebration for Orvietani specifically, and for the Roman Catholic world most particularly.
Orvieto is home to one of the most spectacular
Duomi in all of Italy. How did such a small town manage to build such a magnificent Cathedral? Well, in order to build this Cathedral it took a miracle: Il Miracolo di Bolsena (The Miracle of Bolsena) to be exact.
The story goes like this… in 1263 a doubting priest on a pilgrimage to Rome stops in Bolsena to celebrate mass. During the consecration, blood seeps from the host onto the holy corporal, restoring the priest’s faith and prompting Pope Urban IV, living in nearby Orvieto, to proclaim the feast of Corpus Domini and to order a Duomo be constructed to provide a home for the miraculous relic, where it remains enshrined today!
Following the solemn mass and procession of Corpus Domini is the
Corteo Storico (historic pageant/parade). Walking in this parade are many Orvietani dressed in historical and graceful garb – seeing the Corteo is to be transported back to Orvieto’s medieval and Renaissance past. Over 400 magnificent costumes, brilliantly colored flags and banners, drums, trumpets, armor and weapons, all representing the municipal courts, social and political positions and the military strength of the era.
The Corteo is a supreme example of Italy’s appreciation of tradition, and reverence of the past and of those who came before. Many Orvietani return to their hometown each summer to join with their childhood friends in the Corteo. You can’t help but wonder if they see the lives of their ancestors reflected back at them when dressed in their costumes? I’d like to think so. This celebration is as important a ritual for them as it is for the community. It’s about keeping the historical chain unbroken and building upon the collective memory of the town’s medieval roots thousands of years ago.
– Images kindly contributed by Patrick Raymond Nicholas and Giorgio Campanari. Many thanks to you both from IN!
A Freelance writer and blogger at
Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy. She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.