On November 23rd in Velletri the patron saint San Clemente is celebrated with a big party and a fair that already looks like one of the Christmas markets. The origins of this festival date back to at least the seventeenth century and are well documented. Velletri was part of the Papal State and was authorized to have two fairs every year: one in August and one in November for San Clemente.
Then the fairs lasted many days and saw the arrival of traders and buyers from all the neighboring areas and such an influx of people totally changed the life of the cities. For this reason, for the management of the fair it was called a ‘Captain of the Fair’ that for that period managed everything that happened, a sort of extraordinary commissioner.
But who was San Clemente? The story tells that San Clemente was the fourth pope in history and ruled between 92 and 97 AD. and who died a martyr in 100 AD after a period of slavery under the emperor Trajan. His death was violent: tied to an anchor and thrown into the Black Sea. For this purpose he became the protector of fishermen and is often represented in works of art with an anchor or a fish.
During his exile in the Crimea he converted many people and performed miracles and for this he is also very much loved in the Orthodox Church.
San Clemente became the patron saint of Velletri because before becoming Pope he had been a bishop in this city and he was immediately dedicated to the cathedral created by transforming an ancient pagan temple.