It was no accident, being in Lucca on September 13. We came to witness the Luminaria di Santa Croce, procession of the Holy Cross. It is a stunning example of how Italians passionately express their sacred beliefs through art and celebration.
Before sunset, from our second floor windows, we watched men on ladders light candles that lined doorways and buildings on the streets between two of Lucca’s 40 beautiful art-laden churches–San Frediano and the Cathedral of San Martino. The cathedral is home to the must-see and venerated Volto Santo of Lucca, a stirring eight foot crucifix with the Holy Face of Jesus carved into it, which can be viewed during the day.
Gradually, the narrow streets began to glow, revealing the growing crowd. Thousands of past and present Lucca residents, many in traditional dress, carried long candles, slowly making their way through the streets, often stopping to sing or play music throughout the 3-hour event.
We were thrilled to see one of the centerpieces of the procession, a beautiful large flower covered cross passing beneath us. Shining in the night, it was a breath-taking reflection of Lucca’s blazing devotion to faith and sacred artistry.
A brilliant way, literally and figuratively, to experience Italy every September 13!