At dawn on March 20, all the bells of the Basilica di Sant’Andrea (Basilica of St. Andrew) will chime, heralding the start of festivities in honor of St. Benedict, patron saint of the city of Subiaco. Friends of Roma&Più – Subiaco, the beautiful old town in the Aniene Valley will come alive this week with a host of events to commemorate the month of St. Benedict. Pull out your calendar and mark down the ones you prefer, but make sure to find at least one day to spend in this home of Christian mysticism.
Subiaco, a small town not far from Rome, nestled within an enchanting oasis of green, offers many points of interest and, over the centuries, numerous illustrious individuals have lived in this area, including Nero, St. Benedict, members of the Borgia family and Italian author Antonio Fogazzaro.
For three days the city will relive the memory of the great works of the Patriarch of Norcia in the Aniene Valley, from the period spent in the cave of Mount Taleo, the creation of the Benedictine Order and the birth of monasticism in the West, to the founding of thirteen monasteries.
The first homage paid by the town fathers and residents will be at Subiaco Monastery (Sacro Speco) where he lived for three years. In the presence of the monastery’s abbot and monks, prayers will be offered asking St. Benedict to protect the city. Following this, a procession with at its head the official coat of arms of the city will wend its way along the Via dei Monasteri to the Basilica di Sant’Andrea where the statue of the saint will be officially placed on view in a religious ceremony.
During the morning of Wednesday, March 21 the traditional outdoor market will be held, and at 4:30pm, the traditional procession with the saint’s “car” through the streets of Subiaco. This is the most solemn moment in the calendar of festivities which, in recent years, has also included the arrival of the “Pro Europa Una" Benedictine torch from Norcia and Cassino; the arrival and lighting of the flame is scheduled for 7pm in the Piazza della Resistenza, with the participation of the Simbruini walking club.
Greeting the crowd of faithful will be the bishop and clergy from the diocese who will officiate at the high mass. Also present will be the city’s mayor, the president of the House of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, Gianfranco Fini, the vice president of the Lazio region Luciano Ciocchetti, the councilor for infrastructure and public works of the Lazio region Luca Malcotti, the president of the province of Rome Nicola Zingaretti, as well as mayors from the area of the Aniene Valley with their official coats of arms, official representatives of the Parco dei Monti Simbruini (Simbruini Mountain Park) and a delegation from the sister city of Ochsenhausen. The event will close at 8pm with a fireworks display.
Celebrations will end on the morning of March 22 when the “statuetta” (the affectionate name given it by locals) of St. Benedict will be officially returned to its home inside the monastery.
But the events do not end here. In addition to the religious festivities, on March 21, 24 and 25 the event, "Fieramente", will take place, sponsored by the Sistema Impresa Subiaco (SIS), an ambitious, farsighted project designed to promote the image and economy of the entire Aniene Valley and to offer tangible opportunities for commercial, cultural and tourist development of the whole Simbruini area. The primary goal of the initiative is to re-think the traditional market fair from a regional, national and, above all, European standpoint.
On March 21, the SIS will be present for the first time in the traditional “Fieramente” market fair with “SUBIACO ESPONE”, from 8am to 6pm at the outdoor stand of the former Subiaco paper mill. The event will continue on March 24 and 25 inside the former paper mill and we highly recommend a visit to this promotional, exhibition and sales trade fair complex which will host musical, artistic and cultural events that will include opportunities for discussion and interaction between the public and representatives of government.