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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 07/08/11

Friday, July 8, 2011

ST. ANTHONY'S FEAST DAY!!





  Catholic Feast days are days set aside to remember important people who lived extraordinary lives. Feast days were celebrated through the course of Our faith from the time of Mary's birth all the way through today honoring the saints. Most saints and holy people have specially designated feast days. On those days we remember these holy men and women in a special way. Saint Anthony of Padua died on June 13th, 1231, which is his feast day.







Customs of St. Anthony's Festival
   On the Feast of this most wonderful of Saints, your priest might bless lilies for you to keep (this isn't a universal practice). The blessing of lilies, which remind us of St. Anthony's purity and have always been a symbol for him, stems from a miracle which took place in Revolutionary France: many priests and religious were murdered, so many churches and convents destroyed, but the faithful still showed up at a surviving church on the Feast of St. Anthony. Months later, it was discovered that lilies that had adorned the church at that feast were still fresh. Let the lilies beautify your house, or carry them with you, or press them in a book, etc. If your priest doesn't bless lilies, you can still use them non-sacramentally to remind you of one of the greatest Saints ever. The English of the Blessing of the Lilies is as follows:






The Blessing of Lilies on the Feast of St. Anthony
The priest vests in surplice and white stole, and says:

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with thy spirit.
P: Let us pray. God, the Creator and Preserver of the human race, the Lover of holy purity, the Giver of supernatural grace, and the Dispenser of everlasting salvation; bless + these lilies which we, Thy humble servants, present to Thee today as an act of thanksgiving and in honor of St. Anthony, Thy confessor, and with a request for Thy blessing. Pour out on them, by the saving sign + of the holy cross, Thy dew from on high. Thou in Thy great kindness hast given them to man, and endowed them with a sweet fragrance to lighten the burden of the sick. Therefore, let them be filled with such power that, whether they are used by the sick, or kept in homes or other places, or devoutly carried on one's person, they may serve to drive out evil spirits, safeguard holy chastity, and turn away illness--all this through the prayers of St. Anthony--and finally impart to Thy servants grace and peace; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.






                      Then he sprinkles the lilies with holy water, saying:

P: Sprinkle me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Pray for us, St. Anthony.
All: That we may be worthy of Christ's promise.
P: Let us pray. We beg Thee, O Lord, that Thy people may be helped by the constant and devout intercession of Blessed Anthony, Thy illustrious confessor. May he assist us to be worthy of Thy grace in this life, and to attain everlasting joys in the life to come; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

                      After this the lilies are distributed to the people.







   Another custom on this day is known as "St. Anthony's Bread" and goes back to A.D. 1263 when a child drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua as it was still being built. The mother besought St. Anthony and promised that if her child were restored to life, she would give to the poor an amount of wheat equal to the weight of her child. Of course her son was saved, and her promise was kept. "St. Anthony's Bread," then, is the promise of giving alms in return for a favor asked of God through St. Anthony's intercession (the custom also takes place throughout the year when parents give alms after placing their baby under the patronage of St. Anthony). In some places, the custom has a literal parallel in that loaves of bread might be blessed and given away at church or, generally, to the poor.
   Because of St. Anthony's history of being invoked by single women in search of a husband, today is a good day for single people who have a vocation to marriage to make a visit to a church or shrine dedicated to St. Anthony!








   In Lisbon, his birthplace, it is a traditional day for getting married (women who get married on this day are called "brides of St. Anthony"). So popular are weddings on this day in Lisbon, that the city hall hosts them for free if the couple are poor. St. Anthony altars are built and decorated, parades are held, bonfires lit, grilled sardines and sangria are enjoyed.








Sangria

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine (Rioja, if possible)
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur (triple sec or Grand Marnier)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 apple, cored, and cut into thin wedges
1 (750-ml) bottle sparkling water, chilled
   Combine everything but the sparkling water in a large plastic container or glass pitchers. Cover and chill completely, 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the sparkling water, pour over ice cubes, and enjoy.
   It is also customary to decorate with pots of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and to give some away to friends with prayers invoking our Saint (tea made from basil is good for headaches, fevers, stomach aches, and indigestion -- but it should not be drunk by pregnant women).






   Finally, because he is also especially cherished by the Italian people, parishes with large Italian populations might host great festivals on this day, rather like the Italian festivals held in honor of St. Joseph on 19 March, so keep an eye out for one in your area.
Note: Because St. Anthony was buried on a Tuesday and many miracles accompanied his funeral, Tuesdays are special days of honoring him throughout the year. It is customary to pray a Novena to him on thirteen consecutive Tuesdays.







A Multitude of Fish
                     
    No sooner had he spoken a few words when suddenly so great a multitude of fish, both small and great, approached the bank on which he stood. All the fish kept their heads out of the water, and seemed to be looking attentively on St Anthony's face; all were ranged in perfect order and most peacefully, the smaller ones in front near the bank, after them came those a little bigger, and last of all, were the water was deeper, the largest.
    As he continued speaking, the fish began to open their mouths and bow their heads, endeavoring as much as was in their power to express their reverence. The people of the city, hearing of the miracle, made haste to go and witness it.

IL PALIO HORSE RACE FROM ITALY!






   "Piazza del Campo" is still used today for the well known Palio horse race which is one of the most famous popular Italian manifestations. It takes place every year on July 2 and August 16. The Palio is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani. The holy apparition was therefore called "Madonna di Provenzano" in whose honour the very first Palio was run on August 16, 1656. The Palio was run for the first time in 1701 in honour of the "Madonna dell'Assunta" the patroness and Advocate of Siena through all the tragic events since she protected the Sienese militia at the famous battle of Monteaperti on September 4, 1260, against the Florentines.
The Palio is a historical secular tradition strictly connected with the origin of the Contradas of Siena (districts into which the town is divided). The Contradas are spectacular agonistic institutions each having their own government, oratory, coat of arms, appellations, sometimes titles of nobility, emblems and colours, official representatives, festivities, patron Saints, with protectors, delimited territories and population which consist of all those people who were born or live within the topographic limits of the district, according to the proclamation issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria on January 7, 1730, at that time, Governess of the town.






   Originally, there were about fifty-nine "Contrade"; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).
   Here is a list of their names, emblems and colours grouped into "Terzi" or "Terzieri" (in olden times the town was divided into three sections called: "Terziere di Città", "Terziere di San Martino" and "Terziere di Camollia").









Terziere di Città
AQUILA (Eagle) a double-headed eagle with imperial symbols. Yellow with black and blue bands.
CHIOCCIOLA (Snail) a snail. Yellow and red with blue bands.
ONDA (Wave) a swimming dolphin wearing a crown. White and blue.
PANTERA (Panther) a rampant panther. Red and blue with white bands.
SELVA (Forest) a rhinoceros bearing a huge tree hung with hunting implements. Green and orange-yellow with white bands.
TARTUCA (Tortoise) a tortoise. Yellow and blue.

Terziere di San Martino
CIVETTA (Owl) an owl. Black and red with white bands.
LEOCORN0 (Unicorn) a unicorn. White and orange-yellow with blue bands.
NICCHIO (Shell) a seashell. Blue with yellow and red bands.
TORRE (Tower) an elephant with a tower on its back. Dark bordeaux red with white and blue bands.
VALDIMONTONE or simply MONTONE (Ram) a rampant ram. White and yellow with red bands.






Terziere di Camollia
BRUCO (Caterpillar)- a caterpillar. Yellow and green with blue bands.
DRAGO (Dragon)- a flying dragon. Red and green with yellow bands.
GIRAFFA (Giraffe)- a giraffe. White and red.
ISTRICE (Porcupine)- a porcupine. White, red, black and blue bands.
LUPA (She-Wolf)-the Roman She-Wolf suckling the twins. Black and white with orange-yellow bands.
OCA (Goose)- a crowned goose with the cross of Savoia round its neck. White and green with red bands.
   The "Contrade" first appeared in the middle of the 15th century to celebrate certain solemn events. They were represented by special wooden devices shaped like animals, such as, for instance, a giraffe, a dragon, a porcupine, a she-wolf, a caterpillar, a goose etc. - worked from inside by the youngsters of the districts they represented. They were called after the animals themselves.








   Very soon these associations began to organize shows of their own, such as: bull hunting (suppressed in 1590), buffalo races (only until 1650), donkey races and a game called "Giuoco delle Pugna".
   In ancient times (besides the usual horse-races which took place in many towns of Italy to celebrate certain particular religious and civil events) the Sienese played other kinds of games, such as: Mazzascudo (mace and shield) because the players bore maces and shields; the Giorgiani in honour of San Giorgio (battles with blunt weapons); Elmora detto dei cestarelli because the players wore certain funny baskets (cestarelli) on their heads; le Pugna (punching) abolished in 1324 because the players started throwing stones at one another, then weapons and sticks were used and a real battle ensued. To re-establish order the Bishop was compelled to descend into the square with a train of priests and monks. "La pallonata", a game played between the "Terzi" of the town. A huge ball was thrown from the top of the "Mangia" tower by the youngsters of one of the "Terzi" into the field of their opponents. This game was played on January 13, 1555 for Biagio di Montluc, the French Marshall.







   Of all these games only the Palio has survived. The preparations for this parade are slow and methodic like a liturgical procedure. Four days before the day of the Palio trials take place in the "Campo" square which is turned into a race track. A thick layer of earth is spread on the ground and a row of mattresses is placed against the walls at the dangerous corner of San Martino to protect the jokeys in case they fall.
   The whole square is amazingly fit for such manifestations because its shape is that of a mediaeval Roman amphitheatre closed at the base by the straight line of the Palazzo Pubblico. Besides being semi-circular this peculiar square is also funnel-shaped like the theatres of the imperial age. Eleven streets run into it, though it is extremely difficult to percieve them from the middle of the square. All around the track, perched up against








 the walls of the houses, seats are arranged one behind and above the other like bleachers. Windows, balconies and loggias, too, are made ready for the visitors; 33,000 seats in all, but they are far from sufficient and are always sold out long before the day of the performance. In the centre of the square there is room for about 28,000 people to stand, but this is not enough either and the roofs, the turrets and the cornices of the old houses looking on to the square are also crowded. There are people everywhere, even in the most unlikely places.
   On both the appointed days every year the "Contrade" - that is to say all the Sienese population - compete for a prize which is but a hand painted silk banner (pallium). Each "Contrada" is represented by a group of young men called "Comparsa" arranged as follows: one drummer, two flag-bearers, with their flags, one "Duce", two grooms, one page carrying a flag with two pages at his sides carrying the emblems of the "Contrada", the race-horse called barbero with a jockey called "barbaresco", last the jokey who is to run the race on a parade horse called "soprallasso" followed by a groom.






   The historical parade is a lively display of rich medieval costumes which date back to the time period from 1430 to 1480; their colours are as bright as one may fancy. The procession goes winding its way round the "Campo" square in the following order: the flag-bearer of the Commune on horseback bearing the standard of Siena (the black and white Balzana) followed by his groom, a group of drummers, a group of trumpeters and musicians called "musici di Palazzo" playing the march composed for the Palio by Pietro Formichi in 1875 on their bugles, the Captains, the representatives of the "Podestà" (called podesterie), the flag-bearers with the standards of the "Terzieri" of the town and of the lands belonging to the Commune called "Masse", the flag-bearers of the Corporations of the Arts and Crafts, the captain of the peopIe (Capitano del popolo) on horseback and a group of flag-bearers with the flags of the old Sienese Republic.







   Next come the representatives of the "Contrade" called "comparse". The first ten are those which are to run in the palio horse race; they are followed by a row of young pages bearing festoons of laurel leaves and then by the seven "Contrade" that do not run (they have no "barbero" and no jockey).
   Next comes the captain of Justice (Capitano di Giustizia) riding a horse and then the representatives of the seven "Contrade" that no longer exist: Cock, Lion, Beam, Oak, Sword, Viper. Last comes the triumphal chariot (carroccio) drawn by huge oxen. In the chariot are seated the four "Provveditori di Biccherna" (administrative authority who in times of yore used to superintend public representations, along with the oriflamme of the Commune, the Palio to be awarded to the victor, and a group of trumpeters.






   When this magnificent pageant has slowly gone round the square, all the representatives go to sit on a platform raised just for the purpose beneath the windows of the "Palazzo Pubblico". When they have all been seated ther, they look like a strange army after some brilliant victory, or a train of heroes or of poets ready to enter Paradise. As soon as everything is quiet, the flag-bearers from all of the "Contrade" perform together with their flags in what is most commonally known as "gioco delle bandiere". They throw them high up into the air and catch them again before they touch the ground; it is a splendid, most decorative display of colours accompanied by the beating of drums, the sound of bugles and trumpets and the chimes of the big bell on top of the "Mangia" tower; the little bell on the chariot, known in Siena as "Martinella", is also very busy ringing.






   All of this is but a prelude, a time of anxiety and expectation. When at last the horses appear and the race starts, the crowd becomes delirious. The jockeys goad their horses round the square three times and the people shout as if the town were about to fall.
   The spirit of Siena is in the very colours of her "Contrade" and in all the manifestations connected with each of them. First of all, the benediction of the horses and jockeys, each in the church of their own "Contrada", early in the afternoon just before the Palio. It is this spirit that animates the whole manifestation and contributes such enthusiasm and pathos to the scene.






   This traditional popular manifestation lasts four days (from June 29 to July 2 and from August 13 to 16) and finishes in the streets of the victorious "Contrada" where the people celebrate the happy event in a most joyous way. Winner pays all.
   Whoever happens to be in Siena during these exciting days can, but join in the enthusiasm of the people for the Palio and, of course, the final victory. Visitors, in fact, often go roaming through the winding streets of the ancient town sympathizing with the "Contrada" in which they are living; they do their best to understand the alliances and rivalries between the contradas and temporarily become fervent "contradaioli" (as the inhabitants of each Contrada are called) having much at heart the health of the race horse and of the jockey.