The week long festivities for San Lorenzo, patron saint of Zagarolo, involve both religion and tradition. At night on the day of San Lorenzo, 10 August, there is the night of falling stars celebrating with glasses of wine, and beside these festivities is the religious festival.
Zagarolo is a jewel of artistic beauty, the triumph of baroque churches in the Castelli Romani, set on a tuff hill on the southern Francigena Way that traditionally linked Rome with Brindisi and the Holy Land.
San Lorenzo was of Spanish origin and left his land in Rome to his master, the future Pope Sisto II. During the pontificate of Sisto II, Lorenzo became archdeacon giving up all his possessions and dedicating his life to Christian charity toward the poor and the weak.
An edict of 258 by Emperor Valerian, who wanted the death of the pope and all his helpers, marked the martyrdom of Lorenzo. On August 10, at the age of 33, he was burnt alive on a grill, which is still today his symbol, placed on burning charcoal.
A relic of his blood was kept in Amaseno by a soldier who had witnessed the martyrdom, and every year, on August 10, the miracle of blood liquefaction is repeated just as it does for San Gennaro!
Traditionally August 10 is also famous for another event: the night of falling stars, that is, the passage of Perseids. It is traditional to spend the night up looking at the sky seeking the good wishes of a falling star.
With these premises Zagarolo lives a whole week of religious and pagan festivals!
The day before San Lorenzo, the streets of Zagarolo celebrate a re-enactment of the struggles fought by the brotherhoods to win the privilege of bringing the Saint into procession.
“The race of the processional machine (carriage)” is a race played between teams trying to carry along a specific journey, marked by rules and obstacles, a huge structure. Whichever team wins will have the honour of carrying the Saint in the solemn procession.
At the same time, the nights of the summer are enlivened with the celebration of ‘Chalices under the stars’ in the courtyard of Palazzo Rospigliosi where you taste the best local wine and sample a great selection of local products watching the falling stars.
The next day, that of the religious feast, a solemn mass is celebrated in the church dedicated to San Lorenzo, followed by a procession with the statue of the saint along the streets of Zagarolo.
The days of vacation are brought alive by many other events that animate the summer. The “La Graticola” (symbol of the martyrdom of San Lorenzo), is a competition where the four historical sections of the town challenge in games to decide the winner.
Zagarolo awaits us in the night of falling stars to celebrate San Lorenzo in a truly original festival!