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Corteo Corpus Domini Orvieto

The Feast of Corpus Christi in Orvieto

As every year on the Feast of Corpus Domini (Corpus Christi, Body of Christ, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost in Italy, 9th after Easter, ed), Orvieto relives the solemnity of the ceremony, both religious and purely popular. "To lead the dance" is the Corteo delle Dame (Ladies Parade), previous Saturday afternoon, about 16:30, which proposes an imagery glimpse of medieval life: the nobles of the ruled territories, arrived in the city to march in the parade, were followed by numerous ladies and courtiers. And in honor of the firsts the Podestà (Magistrate, the ancient Mayor) organized plays in the square, from Medieval dances to songs, from performances by flag-wavers to those by falconers, with the Palazzo del Popolo as framework.

But it would be ungenerous to reduce the strong bond between Orvieto, the Orvietani and the Feast of Corpus Christi to, albeit spectacular, historical and religious reenactments. In fact in this day is celebrated the miracle of the Sacramental Bread, the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Tradition has it that in 1263 a Bohemian priest, Peter of Prague, going to Bolsena stopped to celebrate Mass at the altar of St. Cristina. The priest was plagued by doubts. He did not believe possible the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. During the consecration a miracle occurred: blood gushed from the communion bread. The event was communicated to the Pope, Urbano (Urban) IV, who resided in Orvieto, who ordered the immediate transfer of the vestments worn by the priest, the Sacro Lino del Corporale, to the city of the Rupe. Still visible today to the faithful, contained in a Reliquary, during the Procession.
Urban IV, a year later, in 1264, extended the feast to the whole Catholic world.

At 10:30 on Sunday morning, in front of the Orvieto's Duomo, the encounter between the religious procession and the Corteo Storico (Historical Parade), to give rise to the Processione Storica e Religiosa del Corpus Domini (Historical and Religious Procession of Corpus Christi). The Corteo Storico of Orvieto born from the Sacred Representations of The Fifties, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of Italy. Consisting of 400 actors, represents the history, culture and traditions of what was once a powerful Medieval Comune.
The show is really fascinating: on the background of the unique setting of the Duomo and the monuments of the historic centre, with the sound of drums and trumpets, you can admire the majestic gait of the walkers-on, at ease in the role. Not forgetting the preciousness of the costumes, drapes and banners, of the armors and helmets, all created with a meticulous historical research and from the great skill of Orvieto's seamstresses, embroiderers and workshops.

A curiosity & event connected to the Festa del Corpus Domini. Also according to tradition, during the transportation of the relics from Bolsena to Orvieto, the inhabitants of the countries in which the procession passed they decided to pay homage to Corpus Christi throwing flower petals on the streets. This throw at the beginning of the last century it was transformed into the Infiorate del Corpus Domini (Corpus Christi Flower Arrangements), drawings on the pavements with a religious theme and true masterpieces of floral art, such as the famous Infiorate di Spello and the Infiorata Sangeminese of San Gemini.

Fabrizio Galeazzi

For the 2013 programme of the Festa del Corpus Domini in Orvieto check here.