Ratings, Comments and User Experiences
Rate it (1 to 5)
Provincial Road 95

Celebrations and Rites of Holy Week in Scicli 

holy week scicli

The Rites of Holy Week

The week preceding Easter is marked by various processions and celebrations.
The afternoon of Palm Sunday, the simulacrum of the A.ddolorata of Santa Maria la Nova, still today at the center of the veneration of all citizens, è linked to an ancient cult that dates back to S. Guglielmo.
A large crowd of faithful, in a double row, silent, in an attitude of prayer, carrying lighted torches with a bridle paper collar, to protect the flame, follows The pity; the statuary group is made up of a wooden sculpture, the Madonna, lying down, with her head bent, her hair falling down on her chest, with a floral dress, a golden shirt and a blue damask cloak that supports the deposed Christ on her knees; flanked by two pious women, standing upright and, next to it, a wooden cross covered with silver sheets. At one time, and up to the middle of the last century, it was not uncommon to see some penitents, the naked torso, under an abracian coat, the head encircled by a thorny twig, proceeding clapping their shoulders, in rhythm, with a donut of rope canape". (B. Cataudella, "Scicli. History and Traditions").

Il Holy Tuesday is the processionand of the Addolorata di S.bartolomeo, "Lu veru Cravaniu", a rite introduced more recently, as if to underline the rivalry between the two Confraternities.

The "function" of the Holy thursday, with the setting up, in the chapels of the various churches, of the "Saburcara", the Sepulchres, which must be visited, as tradition dictates, in an odd number. The older ones remember that once the two simulacra, the Jesus at the column and the Jesus at the "tympone", were transported, in noisy raids, one up to Balata, the other up to Calvary, under the Convent of Cross; the party then continued also during the night, “… with a silent procession, in an atmosphere of sadness, which was fitting for a rite of Passion, during which the Dies ira, dies illa was sung”. (B. Cataudella, op.cit.)

Very suggestive is the evening of Good Friday, when a beautiful simulacrum of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried in procession, called "of the Hospital " because it was already kept and venerated in the demolished church of the hospital.

Dressed in the traditional black dress and a sword that pierces her chest, she was also called Madonna of the craftsmen, as once the city workers took turns at the poles.
This Madonna, currently venerated in the church of San Giovanni, attracts a continuous flow of faithful in which it ignites feelings of authentic religious piety, testified by the numerous associations that operate and spread the Marian cult in her name.

The procession begins, in fact, from the church of San Giovanni and, in an atmosphere of great meditation, goes towards the church of Santa M. la Nova where other faithful are already waiting with the ferculo of the "Dead Christ", kept inside a glass case that is placed at the head of the procession; to follow, the statue of "Christ at Calvary and the Jews" it's a "Here Homo "; composed like this, the procession, between songs and prayers, runs through the main streets of the city, until late.

From this moment on the city seems to live with bated breath, in religious silence, the arrival of Saturday when, at midnight, with the function of the "Scisa a Cruci" , "Snap", (melt) the bells, after the long silence that lasts from Holy Thursday and, in a festive competition, the bells of the Matrix ring out, then, in order, thunders, in the valley, the bell of the church of San Bartolomeo and, lastly those of Santa M. la Nova quiet down, because the Easter rite belongs to her, so here it is celebrated with greater solemnity.
It is here that throngs of young people eagerly await the end of the Holy Saturday service and together with a crowd overflowing from each aisle of the church welcome, among the cheers of exultation, the statue of the Risen Christ, to the cry of "Joy".
The whole Sciclitan community lives the spirit of contrition that emanates from the Mysteries contemplated in the celebrations and functions of Holy Week, awaiting the Rebirth prefigured by the Risen Christ, the "Uomu Vivu" that all Sciclitans, and not only, are preparing to celebrate from the early morning of Easter Day.
It is the "religiosity" of the entire community, in its multiform structure, which emanates from the long and participatory processions, without hiding or ignoring, the spirit of "belonging" to this or that parish or brotherhood.
This too (and more) is History, Folklore and Tradition, therefore all the manifestations, each in its specificity, deserve to be valued and "assumed" in the socio-cultural life of the city community.
With this motivation the Region of Sicily intended to welcome,”The rites of the week Santa in Scicli " among the Great Events, and inscribe the event so called in the REI, the Register of Intangible Heritage.

Source: Municipality of Scicli - Promotion and Tourist Information Office

Visit Sicilian Intangible Cultural Heritage database  to learn about other intangible assets

Visit Data Maps Heritage: Set of databases of the Sicilian Cultural Heritage to know other databases (nature, baroque, archeology, material assets and much more)



Technical sheet prepared by: Region of Sicily - Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity - CRicd: Regional Center for the inventory, cataloging and documentation and Sicilian regional film library 


Intangible Heritage Register

N. Prog. 136
Well: Celebrations and Rites of Holy Week
Book: REI - Book of celebrations
Approval date: 17-11-2010
Category: Party / Ceremony
Province: Ragusa
Municipality: Scicli
Chronological News
There are several historical information regarding the rites of the Holy Week of Scicli, a festival that is deeply felt and participated by the entire population, the first information of which dates back to the first half of the XNUMXth century. Since the past, as today, the feast of Easter in Scicli had its center in the church of S. Maria la Nova and took place in four stages: the unveiling of the simulacrum of the Risen Christ the King at the end of the vigil on the night between Saturday and Easter Sunday, the Sacred representation on Sunday morning, the Eucharistic procession, the procession with the statues of the Risen Christ and Our Lady of the Pietà.
As for the Easter Vigil in Santa Maria La Nova, following the directives of the Council of Trent which prohibited the celebration of Mass "post meridiem", The vigil was brought forward to the morning of Holy Saturday, and the liturgy was also accompanied by the unveiling of the festively decorated altar, on which a statue or a painting with the representation of the Risen Christ was often placed, through the fall of the cloth: which covered the entire apse and on which the scene of the burial of the dead Christ was painted. This, at noon, at the time of "glory"Was detached from the supports and rolled on the ground, at that moment"melted”The bells that resumed ringing after being silent since Holy Thursday. The unveiling with the fall of the canvas was made until 1880, when it was forbidden for the whole diocese on February 15, 1881 by Mons.Giovanni Blandini for the reason that the fall had now become only a public spectacle disconnected from the liturgical context. Following this arrangement, the device was prepared in S. Maria La Nova for the elevation of the simulacrum of the Risen Christ from behind the main altar up to the top. This way of re-proposing the resurrection of the Lord in his exit from the sepulcher, recalled by the dark space between the altar and apsidal wall, constituted a quite suggestive scene until the first half of the last century. Things changed in 1955 when it was decided, with the reform of Holy Week, to bring the Easter Vigil back from Saturday morning back to the night or in any case in the evening after sunset.
To the unveiling of the altar and image in the vigil, other ritual gestures were later added in the celebration of the solemn Easter mass on Sunday morning such as the Sacred representation, with origins already in medieval times, which recalls the sequence Victimae paschali laudes, in which the dialogue between the disciples and the Magdalene who goes to the sepulcher is gradually expanded and scripted to give rise to a true and proper sacred representation of the Lord's resurrection. Over the years the Sacred representation detaches itself from the Mass and becomes an autonomous recitation carried out at the beginning but above all at the end of the celebration itself, until the Tridentine Council, introducing some prohibitions, will lead to the replacement of the actors with statuary groups representing particular events or mysteries. Therefore, the use of representing the resurrection was no longer with figures but with statues. The Sacred representation of the Resurrection in Scicli is attested in the Church of S. Maria La Nova as early as the 600s and was carried out in the church in front of the main altar, at the arrival of the procession of the Venerable from S. Maria la Piazza. After the Sacred representation, the procession began with the two statues of the Risen Christ and the Virgin. But already at the end of the 700th century the sacred representation was replaced by the celebration of a private mass in front of the SS. Crucifix. This was the case throughout the 800th century. Finally, in the twentieth century only the blessing remained as it is in current practice.
The Eucharistic procession on Easter Sunday, known as the "Venerable", is the testimony of the persistence in Scicli of the traces of the authentic and ancient Roman liturgy and of its development, before the devotional contaminations of the following centuries were born. This is one of the oldest processions, which recalls when in the Middle Ages, even before the institution of Corpus Domini, the Sacrament was carried in procession in its custody either on Palm Sunday or on Easter morning.
The maintenance and then the increase of this use is due to the Confraternity of the SS. Sacramento which had its seat in S. Maria La Piazza founded by the bishop of Syracuse in 1630, who so distinguished himself in the cult of the Eucharist that he obtained from the Bishop of Syracuse to be able to carry it in procession every third Sunday of the month. It is known that already in 1688 in the episcopal decree given by the Curia of Syracuse, license was given to make the procession of the SS. Sacramento on Easter day from the church of S. Maria La Piazza to the church of S. Maria La Nova, followed, on its return, by the translation of the statue of the Risen Christ into the Church of S. Maria La Piazza. However, no reference is made to any statue of the Madonna. From 1694, according to historical information, the only procession that took place was that of the Venerable, until 1731 when reference is made to the "two statues that fall into the church of S. Maria La Nova". The first news relating to the statue of the Risen Christ carried in procession even today appears for the first time in an inventory of 1799. While the statue of the Virgin carried in procession on Easter Sunday together with the Risen Christ was probably that of the Madonna of Easter , also known as Our Lady of Pietà or Madonna della Stella, a marble statue of 1496. According to the scholar Pluchinotta, who wrote in 1932, already from that date the ark of the relics and the Virgin are no longer carried in procession but only the Risen Christ.
Today, therefore, there is no more fall of the cloth, nor sacred representation, after the exposure of the simulacrum of the Risen in the church during the vigil, everything is concentrated on Easter Sunday in two strong moments: the Eucharistic procession and the procession of the Risen Christ without the Virgin.
Recurrence: Annual
Occasion: Death and Rebirth of Christ the Savior
Function: Celebratory / Devotional
Participants: Local community, tourists
Holy Week in Scicli is marked by various processions and celebrations that follow one another in a contrite and participatory atmosphere until the explosion of joy that accompanies the rebirth of the Risen Christ on Sunday.
That of the Easter period is a religiosity that affects the entire Sciclitan community which is characterized by long and crowded processions, during which no devotee hides the spirit of belonging to this or that parish or brotherhood.
- Palm Sunday in Scicli represents the beginning of the rites of Holy Week, it is the day dedicated to the Addolorata of the Church of S. Maria la Nova, to which Sciclitans profess their devotion by participating in a moving and collected procession , performed by some barefoot, which begins in the afternoon from the Church of S. Maria la Nova and ends late in the evening after the fireworks show. Together with the simulacrum of the Addolorata, the statuary group of the Pietà is carried in procession consisting of the Madonna holding the deposed Christ on her knees, flanked by two pious women standing and, next to it, a wooden cross covered with silver sheets. At one time, and up to the middle of the last century, it was not uncommon to see some penitent, shirtless, under an orbace coat, abracio, his head encircled by a thorny twig, proceed clapping his shoulders, in rhythm, with a donut of canape rope.
- On Holy Tuesday, in the same contrite climate, the procession of the Addolorata takes place, lu veru Cravaniu,of S. Bartolomeo, which starts from the homonymous church.
- On the evening of Holy Wednesday, only a few years ago, the Via Crucis has been taking place along the streets of the historic center of the town.
- Thursday evening is the turn of the saburcara, the sepulchres, set up in the chapels of the various churches, which must always be visited in odd numbers, as tradition dictates.
- On Good Friday, around 20:30, a very suggestive procession takes place: between songs and prayers, until late in the day, the simulacrum of Our Lady of Sorrows, known as the Hospital, because it is already guarded and venerated, runs through the main streets of the city in the demolished church of the hospital, dressed in the traditional black dress and a sword that pierces her chest, she was also called the Madonna degli artigiani, since once the city workers took turns to support the launch. The procession starts from the church of S. Giovanni and goes towards the church of S. Maria la Nova, where in the afternoon the solemn mass and the rite of the Deposition of Jesus from the Cross took place, scisa a cruci, and in front of which the faithful wait with the fercolo of the Dead Christ, kept in a glass case that is placed at the head of the procession; to follow, the statue of Christ at Calvary and Jews and an Ecce Homo complete the group.
- From this moment the city awaits the arrival of Saturday evening when the Resurrection of Christ is awaited with the traditional Easter vigil in the Church of S. Maria la Nova; at midnight, the Risen Christ is exhibited accompanied by the sound of the bells that dissolve a silence that lasts from Holy Thursday and, in a festive competition, the bells of all the churches in the town ring. Hordes of young people eagerly await the end of the Holy Saturday service and together with an overflowing crowd from every aisle of the church welcome, amid cheers of exultation, the statue of the Risen ChristOmu Vivu, to the cry of "Joy", which greets her devout city blessing those born in the last year thanks to the "rite of you believe you believe".
- On Easter Sunday, the celebrations begin at 11:00 with the procession, through the streets of the city, of the "Venerable", the monstrance carried by a priest, under a large four-pole canopy. At the head of the procession, a very heavy Stunnardu, the traditional blue silk banner "with the star embroidered in gold and a large tassel, at the tip, touching the ground, hanging from a long rod, which bends in an arc, is carried, tied to the waist, by young people, who give thus proof of their vigor. They proceed with measured steps, the shaft inserted into a leather tile, hung on the front, with a strap tight at the hips, the torso bent back, one arm outstretched, to support the shaft; the tip of the banner crawling on the ground "(Cataudella, 1970).
The most spectacular moment of the party takes place upon returning to the church of Stunnardu, accompanied by the city and ecclesiastical authorities, when silence falls and the last bearer of the banner has the honor of to bow to the Risen Christ, with a not just effort he lowers the Venerable before Christ and raises him with vigor; at the same instant the bearers explode in a thunderous scream and energetically raise theOmu Vivu, shouting repeatedly all together: “Joy! Joy! Joy!". For more than an hour, inside the church, the young people continue to lift the statue, throwing it sideways, forwards, backwards, and always shouting in chorus. After the wooden statue ofOmu vivu, also called u 'Joy, it is finally taken out of the Church of S. Maria la Nova and the procession begins. THEn an orgiastic atmosphere and frenetic rhythm the simulacrum is carried through the streets of Scicli, pushing it up and down, back and forth, and in every direction, according to the whim and inspiration of the young people who carry it around, to the sound of the most lively marches, under a rain of flowers thrown from the balconies of the houses, accompanied by the uninterrupted bells coming from the Church, by the cries of "Joy" of the porters and all those who attend, in an explosion of artistic fireworks deafening.
In the afternoon, around 16 pm, the statue of the Risen Christ is again carried in procession through the streets of the historic center. This is a more religious and less folkloric moment. The party will explode again in the last procession of the day which takes place after dinner and which lasts until late at night when theOmu Vivu it will begin its tour again on the shoulders of the bearers.

Buttitta, Ignazio Emanuele. 2005. Dances, struggle and regeneration. Easter in Scicli, in Catalog of the XXX Festival of Morgana. Palermo: Association for the conservation of popular traditions.

Buttitta, Ignazio Emanuele. 2002. The long memory: symbols and rites of traditional religiosity.Rome: Meltemi Editore.
Cataudella, Bartolo. 1970. Scicli: history and tradition. Scicli: printed by the Municipality.
Croce, Marcella. 2004. The seasons of the sacred: almanac of Sicilian folk festivals.Palermo: Flaccovio Editore.
Buttitta, Ignazio Emanuele, edited by. Holy Week in south-eastern Sicily, Disco 2. Syracuse: produced by the Sicilian Region - Regional Department of the BB.CC.AA. and of the PI, Casa Museo “A. Bird ", Superintendence for BB.CC.AA. of Syracuse, Folkstudio of Palermo, 2005. DVD, 11 min.
Author Profile: Maria Rosaria Paterno '
Information on geolocation and the route to reach the place
View the place with Street View (if any). Relevant only if referring to tangible assets with associated address.
Send a notice to the publisher
[contact-form-7 id="18385"]