The festival of Sant’Antonio da Padova (St Anthony of Padua) in Rieti is historical. The feast of June Antoniano culminates on June 24 when the “machine” with the statue of the Saint, is decorated with gold and silver and carried on the shoulders of the confreres of the Pious Union of St. Anthony of Padua, barefoot and dressed with humble clothes, along the infiorate and illuminated streets.
Although not the Patron of Rieti, the Sabine city has a tradition that strongly binds it to the figure of Saint Anthony of Padua.
The first evidence of a procession in his honour dates back to 1400, although the name of Saint Anthony is linked to the city as early as 1232, when Pope Gregory IX decided to canonize him in Rieti (canonization then took place in Spoleto).
The procession, which starts from the Church of San Francesco, is also known as “Procession of the Ceri” because most of the faithful carry large candles, lit up as a sign of devotion, giving a spectacular scenario to all present. It is a magical atmosphere that inextricably links the Rieti people to the Lusitano Saint.
The streets along which the statue is paraded are decorated and infiorate. The religious images made with flowers are real art forms that last only on the day of the procession but leave beautiful memories in the faithful who neatly parade at the sides of the road to allow only the saint to ruin the infiorata.
Before returning to the Church of San Francesco, the statue is exhibited in the Cathedral of Santa Maria, where Mass is celebrated. At the end of the religious celebrations the traditional offer of chocolate and biscuits takes place. In the late evening, an impressive fireworks display takes place.
The Fondazione Varrone has for many years become a promoter of cultural events, supporting the most significant initiatives with the aim of expanding the area.
The artistic-religious manifestation of the June Antoniano, which sees the highest point in the Procession of the Ceri, is one of the traditions that makes one rediscover the spirit of belonging to the community. It is an ideal opportunity to visit Rieti and feel the emotions transmitted by these unique manifestations.