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Festa of the Madonna della Bruna

The Festa della Bruna was established on November 9, 1389 at the behest of Pope Urban VI, legend tells us that a farmer met on a summer evening a noble woman of extraordinary beauty who asked him for a passage to Matera on the road; the peasant agreed on condition that the woman get off the “tow” (the typical wagon used by the farmers of Matera) before entering the city, to avoid possible problems related to the presence of the unknown woman, but while preparing to get her off she disappeared mysteriously.

Her actual identity was revealed in the letter the woman left to the farmer to be handed over to the bishop. It was the Virgin, who came to visit the city of Matera, who is still venerated in the guise of the statue miraculously appeared on the tow in place of the Madonna. Solemnly welcomed by the Bishop and clergy, she was carried in procession to the Cathedral with all honors, after having made three rounds of the square.

Today the process of the patronal feast recalls this event with a traditional complex ritual: the feast begins on the dawn of July 2 with “the procession of the shepherds”, which recalls the feast organized by them before going to the pastures, and takes place for all the neighborhoods accompanied by noisy pyrotechnic effects, while at noon the statues of the Madonna and the child, escorted by knights dressed as Roman legionaries, are brought to the triumphal papier-mâché cart, built every year by the masters of papier mache with a different sacred subject, and enclosed in a shed in the popular Piccianello district near the Annunziata church, where the prodigy narrated by legend traditionally took place. Around six in the afternoon, the chariot pulled by mules begins to parade from here, preceded by knights, bishops and clergy, under the rich lights. Arrived in Piazza Duomo he makes 3 laps and after leaving the Madonna and the child in the church he resumes the road towards the center of the city where he is attacked and dismembered by the population who considers the pieces of the papier-mâché cart as relics bearing good wishes throughout year, until the next feast, and the construction of the new triumphal chariot.