The procession of candles and censors: the Siena outside the Palio

Siena is not only the Palio. The mid-August event, which runs in the Piazza del Campo, has a side feast that mix of the civic with the sacred element, in a moment of particular intensity that only Siena can express.

Among the manifestations of the Sienese celebrations in honor of the Holy Assumption, Patron and Queen of Siena, there is the traditional Ceri and Censi Choir that has been handed down since the 13th century.

The sacred and profane Siena

It is a still alive tradition and fully resides in the festivities with which Siena celebrates its most intimate identity of Civitas Virginis, and culminating in the Palio's career in honor of the Assumption. Historically, it is probably the oldest element surviving to date: documented since the twelfth century, the Corte dei Ceri and the Censi was born at the same time as the establishment of the free commune of Siena. It was indeed a gesture of vassalage to the Republic that every year, on the occasion of the "S. Mary of mid-August, "carried out all the lands and castles of the Sienese state, along with nobles and lords. The Assumption thus constitutes the real "national holiday" of the Republic of Siena, when all the members, those who parade today in the historic court before the Palio, renewed their act of submission to the Virgin Mary.

Photo Credits Paolo Lazzeroni

Siena devotion today

Today, the Ceri and Censi tribes have the main protagonists of the Contrada peoples, which also summon up the parish communities of the City, which until many years ago parade with their insignia. On the eve of the Assumption, in the afternoon of August 14, all the representatives of the Rioni, with the special participation of the children dressed in the colors of the Contrada, find themselves in the area of Pispini, carrying with them their offer of flowers and candles, which will be at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral. From there the people meet with the institutional component at Piazza del Campo, when the Contrade Contes, the Labari civici, the Drappellone del Palio, the representatives of the Institutions and the big wagon drawn from the Oxen on which the votive stake is hoisted by the Mayor before the Madonna del Voto image. In fact, this is the occasion to renew the solemn vow of submission that the City has made to Mary in different circumstances: the first time on the eve of the Battle of Montaperti (1260), the last one during the passage of the war front ( 1944).

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