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St Michael the Archangel celebration


"Going down towards the sea, St. Angelo appears surrounded by air of peace. Escaping from central part of the Island, first of all, stands the homonym islet with its cliffs and rocks above the waves, accessible only from the North-East by a stretch of sand 119.50 meters long and 30 meters wide to close the Island. It is a rock of volcanic origin 105 meters high. A gigantic altar beneath the sky, an altar shrouded in mystery and historical splendours where the cult of St. Michael the Archangel established, the guardian angel that gave name to the village".

On that island the Benedictine Monks during the 1000 A.D. built a small monastery which abandoned in 1432 maintaining the cult of St. Michael the Archangel. There was also a church with a lookout tower that was destroyed during the British bombardment of 1808. Since then, the island was abandoned. The small fishing village began to extend to the sea with houses clinging to the rock.

The popular tradition says that the little statue of St. Michael the Archangel was moved to a small chapel above the village called "S. Maria a Terra" that a priest, Don Giuseppe Iacono, son of wealthy family of landowners and merchants of wine, expanded also thanks to donations in 1850 to build a parish that had the canonical recognition in 1905. The church was built next to the tiny cemetery where the soil had been donated by the same Don Giuseppe Iacono. The church and cemetery are separated only by the small churchyard.

Don Vincenzo Fiorentino is 81 but shows less years. He is son of peasants in the nearby village of Panza and the longevity is one of the family, for centuries. His mother died at the age of 100.

He is priest of St. Michael Parish for 49 years - he tells me - and is the third priest since the erection of the parish after Father Giuseppe Iacono and Don Luigi Trofa, a great priest and educator who was pastor from 1913 until 1962.

The feast of St. Michael is very important for the population and very popular for tourists, many of which, for years, book hotels on the occasion of two days of the event.

The St. Michael celebration refers primarily to the extraordinary beauty of the "procession on the sea" on Friday, Sept. 30. The St. Michael’s statue shows “the warrior and the driver with a drawn sword against the dragon”, Don Pietro Monti presents in his book. The statue is carried on the shoulder of sailors of the St. Angelo church going down the lane to the square and from there set on a vessel on which there are Don Vincenzo Fiorentino, civil and military authorities, members of the committee and then hundreds of crafts of all kinds with the population and tourists to follow the St. Michael’s boat. It comes up from the harbor to Punta Chiarito towards Forio, and then circumnavigates the small island that everyone calls "The Tower", to the Maronti marina village and finally they return to the port and the square. The procession begins on the sea at 18 and finishes at 20 in the square, where Don Vincenzo celebrates the Mass of thanksgiving.

The celebration ends the two feast days , during which religious services are intertwined with the band concerts in the square, the spectacle of the fireworks at midnight on September 30 in the stretch of water of Cava Grado with the Island of Ventotene before. Eighteen miles away it is possible also to catch a glimpse of Ischia, the Mother Island of the Gulfs of Naples and Gaeta. On the Pontine Islands nowadays "Ischia settlers" are still living and bear surnames like Iacono, Mattera, Taliercio. Descendants of peasants and fishermen, men and women of land and sea, have sailed the Mediterranean islands settling on the islands, even in the Tuscan Archipelago, trusting in the holy protection of St. Michael the Archangel, their own guardian angel.


Serrara Fontana - Loc. Sant'Angelo - St Michael the Archangel celebration:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

  • 07.30 - Holy Mass.
  • 09.00 - A loud reveillewill greet the main day of the celebration.
  • 09.30 - Arrival and tour of the country with the Aurora band.
  • 12.00 - Morning concert in the square.
  • 18.00 - Holy Mass and procession through the streets.
  • 21.00 - Aurora Band in concert.

Friday, September 30 2011
  • 09.00 - A reveille will wish people goodbye to the last day of the celebration.
  • 09.30 - Arrival and tour of the country with the band.
  • 11.00 - Procession to the square where the statue of St. Michael will remain on display for the veneration of the faithful
  • 12.00 - Tour by boat with the band to Punta Chiarito and along the Maronti beach.
  • 18.15 - Procession on the sea: embarkation at the small port of pescatori, and further inshore to Punta Chiarito, then Maronti stop and return.
  • 20.00 - Landing at the Tower and torchlight procession to the square. Celebration of the Holy Solemn Mass celebrated by Father Filippo Strofaldi, our Bishop. Finally returning to church with torches.
  • 22.00 - Classical music concert in Naples, with Marinella.
  • 24.00 - Pyromusical fireworks at the conclusion of the solemn celebrations.

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