Italy's calendar filled with Catholic feasts

  • The people of Camaoire, Italy, create colorful sawdust carpets, or tappeti, for the annual Corpus Domini procession.
  • People make their way to church in 2016 in light rain that later turned heavy, canceling the outdoor procession.
  • The schedule of activities for the Feast of St. Barnabas, the patron saint of Marino, Italy, celebrated on June 11.
  • Lay confraternities don special robes for the Corpus Christi procession in Venice.

Only four of Italy’s major holidays are secular in origin. The others — Epiphany, Easter Monday (Lunedì dell’Angelo, or Angel Monday), Assumption Day, All Saints Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Ferragosto), Christmas (Natale) and Santo Stefano (Dec. 26) — are Catholic feasts. 


But this list by no means exhausts the number of feast days that are celebrated there. In many municipalities, the feast of the local patron saint is the major village or city event of the year, with fireworks, major religious processions that bring a patron saint out into the streets of the city, marching bands, elaborate staging and lighting, costumes, food, and special markets. Few if any cultures could compare to Italy for the range of public feasts and the level of organization and public ritual that celebrate saints, the Madonna, and sometimes Jesus himself. Organizing the feasts requires significant activity on the part of laity.