La madonna che scappa in piazza

Sulmona: madonna che scappa in piazzaOn Easter Sunday thousands of people gather in Piazza Garibaldi in Sulmona to watch this ancient pageant.
With the snow covered peaks of the Morrone and the Maiella in the background, people crowd on balconies and walls to watch. The statues of St Peter and St Paul are carried to the church at the far end of the square, where the Madonna has retired in her grief. They bring the news that Jesus has been resurrected.

After three failed attempts – the Madonna does not believe the saints’ news at first – she finally emerges and proceeds across the square. At exactly midday, she at last sees Jesus and starts to run towards him. Her black dress is pulled off to reveal a green gown of renewal, at the same time releasing a cloud of doves and her long golden hair. Firecrackers go off and the bells of every church in the city peal joyfully. Tradition has it that the quality of this performance – how well the Madonna runs, how well her dress comes off and so on – provides an omen for the year to come.