the italian expedition part 2

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This is Coco. Hello again! I will highlight on here the experience I had in Lucca. It is the city of 101 churches and, if I am not wrong, the only city with its gates and walls still up. 



 I went there after visiting the leaning tower plaza in Pisa and I was glad to see less people there at least at the time I went. Later that day (September 13th) we learned about the procession that was going to happen in the evening and that brought big crowds. As I explored the city, I saw workers going all over the place lighting up candles and had no idea why. The reason: the celebration called Luminara in Lucca.

The event is connected to an antique reliquary, the Holy Face. Very important for both Lucca's residents and visitors, the Holy Face is the historic protagonist of the Holy Cross celebrations
The ritual consists of a procession that leaves from the Basilica of San Frediano (below), runs through the town to the Cathedral to pay homage to the Holy Wooden Cross, while all the buildings along the procession route are illuminated or decorated with tiny glasses containing candles. 

According to medieval legend, Nicodemus, a figure often refered to as a Pharisee and is rumored have met with Christ, carved from memory the face of Jesus. However, he hesitated to complete his carving for fear of not doing it justice. Exhausted from the work, he fell asleep.  When he awoke, he found the face was finished and claimed it to be the work of an angel. The story then tells us that the Crucifix of the "Holy Face" was buried in a cave for safekeeping, where it remained for centuries. 

It was rediscovered by Bishop Gualfredo, who was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when its location was revealed to him in a dream. To allow God to decide where the Crucifix should be kept, the bishop set it adrift on an unmanned boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The Volto Santo arrived on the shores of northern Italy, where the Bishop of Lucca, also prompted by a dream, put it into a wagon with no driver to determine its final location. The two oxen pulling the wagon stopped of their own accord at Lucca in 782.

The story doesn't stop there, it is also said that the Volto Santo was placed in the Church of San Frediano, but the next morning, it was found to was miraculously in another church, that of San Martino. Therefore, San Martino was designated the cathedral of Lucca and the wooden statue was left in a special chapel within the church.

:-)

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