The March of Faith: Bolsena to Orvieto

June 5, 2013 / Events
Orvieto, Umbria

IMG_2219Just as it happened nearly 750 years ago, on the night of June 1, a group of about one hundred individuals gathered together for the solemn Marcia della Fede (March of Faith), the traditional pilgrimage from Bolsena to Orvieto first made in the 13th century. Participating in this extraordinary event were both faithful souls and those seeking to experience a trek that spans 18 kilometers from a little village on a lake to the Duomo d’Orvieto.

IMG_2197La Marcia della Fede marks the start of the jubilee of Corpus Domini (Corpus Christi), one of the most holy days in the Catholic Church.

IMG_2204The evening’s program begins at the original site of the miracle and then, just before midnight, all depart along the ancient road leading to Orvieto. Whatever your personal beliefs there is symbolism galore to reflect upon: heading into the darkness and trudging through life’s difficulties such as… the pouring rain that began three hours in, or the treacherous footing on dimly lit paths of mud, rocks and branches, or the grueling, last-hour climb to the top of the rock where Orvieto is perched.  But the journey was not only filled with hardship – there were four soste (rest stops) along the way with refreshments of water, coffee and snacks offered by families whose homes dot the countryside.

IMG_2208The weary pilgrims finally arrived at their intended destination by the light of sunrise – met warmly at the entrance of the Cathedral with a ceremonial mass in their honor while the revered relic is prepared for the day’s upcoming Medieval Corteo (parade) through the streets of Orvieto.

Walking in this event can make one’s feet very tired and legs ache, but the unforgettable lights of Orvieto in the distance and the knowledge that you have followed in the footsteps of ancient Umbrians gives one a sense of satisfaction, pride and appreciation to have been a part of La Marcia della Fede, a walk to remember.

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Toni DeBella

by Toni DeBella

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. 

24 Responses to “The March of Faith: Bolsena to Orvieto”

  1. I always welcome these notes of the customs and traditions from our beloved Italy! Mille Grazie for such a well written glimpse into this ceremony.

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Thank you LP. I am happy you enjoyed it. It was my first time participating in this pilgrimage and being part of such an important celebration. Toni

      Reply
  2. Toni~
    How wonderful! thank you for sharing this story. This event is going on my bucket list!
    Sue

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Sue, Add to your bucket list: Rain slicker, small flashlight, and sturdy, mud proof shoes. Next time. :) Thanks for writing. Toni

      Reply
  3. Roger duPont

    Toni,
    Good read. Orvieto is a great place, and it looks like it fits you well.
    Roger

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Hi Roger. Or maybe it’s the other way around….to fit in one has to participate in a towns’ traditions and customs and make them our own. I was proud to be included in this important historical event. Thanks so much for commenting. Toni

      Reply
  4. The duomo in Orvieto is one of the most beautiful I have seen.

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  5. Ann Bowerman

    One of the most beautiful churches! Our group arrived just as mass was ending. The closing hymn echoed in the air.

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    • Toni DeBella

      Ann, Sorry I missed meeting you, but alas I was not in the best form at that point. Just a bit tired I’d say. Lovely experience: I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Thanks for writing. Toni

      Reply
  6. Denise

    Sounds like a great experience. Wish I could have been there to join you! Thanks for the great story.

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    • Toni DeBella

      Hi Denise. Hey, aren’t you the girl that doesn’t like camping. I was so wet, I don’t think I could get any wetter! Next year you’ll be in Italy in time to March. I will sign you up now. Hugs. toni

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  7. Toni,
    I agree with all the other comments…I, too, love hearing about the traditions and customs, but to participate would be so very meaningful and unforgettable.
    Grazie for the glimpse…
    Victoria

    Reply
  8. William Strangio

    I drove from Orvieto to Bolsena and the 10.8 miles
    is fairly hilly plus as you mentioned the last climb
    up to Orvieto – that is a bit of a task! That is not
    a “walk in a park”! Such a Macsia delle fede!

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      William. Not for the faint of heart, but worth the struggle to see the sunrise over the Rupe. Beautiful. Thanks for writing. Toni

      Reply
  9. Diane Lennon

    Toni,

    They do a similar walk here in Avigliano Umbro on the eve of San Francesco’s feast day in October. The walk goes from Avigliano to Amelia. A mass is celebrated after their arrival.

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Diane. Have you done that one? I actually was surprised and delighted to have a mass performed in our honor and witness the preparation of the holy corporal right before my eyes. Awesome, really. Toni

      Reply
  10. Colleen Simpson

    Grazie Mille, Toni for this incredibly beautiful story. My own L’Antica Vetreria will forever be linked to the Miracle of Bolsena for the glass artisans of our vetreria created the thousands of mosaics that adorn the magnificent Duomo of Orvieto. So many times I bring our guests to the Duomo and I posted your story on L’Antica Vetreria facebook page, for it all began in Bolsena and your story is evocative of the ancient beginnings! Such a sacred way of remembering the beginning of a miracle that has forever changed the way we participate in the Eucharist. Again Thank You! I would love to meet you someday!

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Colleen, Thank you for those kind and beautiful words. Please get in touch the next time you are in town and we’ll have a coffee. Would like to meet you as well. Toni

      Reply
  11. Rita Mantone

    Wonderful, thanks for sharing! I have been to the Duomo, but would love, love, love to participate in the holy pilgrimage!

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Rita,
      It’s open to all and quite a profound experience I would recommend everyone do (at least once). Twice….not so sure. I will wait till my legs stop stinging before deciding about next year’s march. Thanks for writing. Toni

      Reply
  12. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks for the note – and always so glad to read about beloved Bolsena (and warm weather now – time for a weekend there! finalmente..: )
    Grazie, Toni

    Reply
    • Toni DeBella

      Hi Anne,
      Oh, just went you think that the warm weather is here to stay…another thunderstorm. I hung my sheets out today as a sign of “fede” that enough rain has fallen until January comes around again. Happy Summer. Toni

      Reply

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