The tradition of the Bagnoregio procession began in 1600 but the miracle linked to the wooden cross dates back to the 1400s. It is said that in 1499 Bagnoregio and the whole area were infested with a terrible plague and a pious woman went every day to pray before the crucified Christ pleading with the Lord to end the pains. One day this woman heard a voice coming from the cross that told her that the plague would end due to her devotion. And so it happened, the very day the woman died.
The crucified Christ is also a valuable work of art from the Donatellian school. This statue is found in the church of San Donato in Civita di Bagnoregio, the medieval part of the city that was abandoned due to the continuous landslides that made it inaccessible. But this part that “dies” has such a charm to welcome around 1,000,000 tourists every year from all over the world.
The statue has never been transferred to the new cathedral and only on Good Friday for a day leaves the church of San Donato to be carried in procession along the streets of Bagnoregio. A procession that sees the confraternities involved and that ends before midnight with the return of the Christ to the olde city otherwise, according to a legend, the town would totally collapse.
The procession then has to cross the connecting bridge that separates Civita di Bagnoregio from Bagnoregio in a impressive show that for a few moments sees it suspended in the Valle dei Calanchi. The whole procession with the music of the sacred songs is seen to be walking on a rope above the cliff.
In addition to the religious event, in Bagnoregio there is a historical representation of the Passion of Christ with living paintings that tell the last moments of Jesus’ life. The sets, the accuracy of the clothes and a well created soundtrack make this event very emotive and in which hundreds of extras take part.
The main stage for the religious-historical show is located in the small square in front of the church of Sant’Agostino.