It’s Good Friday in San Marco in Lamis (Foggia), and Mary runs to her son Jesus, with people lighting her way with large torches carried on carts: the so-called “fracchie”, made up of burning tree trunks, branches and twigs held together by large metal rings.
For centuries, at least since the 1700s, the Fracchie Procession has reenacted the Passion of Christ along the streets of the small Apulian town on Good Friday, and the ritual has only grown more complex and evocative over time.
Today, under a shower of ashes and sparks flying out of the moving carts, a statue of the Madonna is carried from her home – the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (or Addolorata, in Italian), to the Collegiate Church where the lifeless body of Christ is lain.
The emotional tradition will be honored again this year, on March 25th 2016, attracting as usual many of the tourists who come to San Marco from the whole world, to visit the 16th-century Sanctuary of Saint Mary of Stignano and the Convent of Saint Matthew the Apostle (11th century).
Spending Easter around here is also a great chance to visit the Gargano National Park, and the Umbrian Forest at its heart – where in the shade of the thick vegetation, poet Giuseppe Ungaretti said, “seasons seem to be stuck at dusk”.