On the evening of September 13th 2016, according to an ancient, yearly tradition dating back to at least the 11th century, a procession of candles will cross Lucca from the Church of San Frediano to the city’s cathedral, San Martino.
So many men and women participate in the luminous event that often the front of the parade reaches its destination while the end is still waiting at the start.
What is it all about? The Lucca Luminara is an old religious tradition celebrating the Holy Face, that is a large, 2.5-meter-tall wooden crucifix that is kept in the Cathedral.
According to legend, it was carved by Saint Nicodemus, an important member of the Synedrium and disciple of Jesus who arrived in the Tuscan city in 742.
According to the story told by Deacon Leobino in the 12th-century, the face of the crucifix was not sculpted by Saint Nicodemus but the result of a miracle: a so-called acheiropoieta image, “not made by human hands”.
As a 1308 document reads, “in vigiliae Sanctae Crucis, pro honore illius Sanctissimi Vultus et pro honore civitatis” (on the day before the Holiday of the Holy Cross, in honor of the Holy Face and of the city”), the people of Lucca decorate their homes with candles and pay a visit to their protector, singing and praying.
Let’s join them on this beautiful evening.