When arriving at the Viterbo, I learned that every year on the first weekend in September, the medieval city honors their patron saint, Santa Rosa. According to legend, during the years around 1250, Santa Rosa help eradicate those few who supported the emperors instead of the popes.
I experienced the celebration of Santa Rosa, and was among Viterbo’s citizens–dressed in 14th-century costumes. In the early evening, I entered Porta Roma and behind the wall, a 30-meter artistic bell-tower, known as the Macchina di Santa Rosa stood, protected by scaffolding. At dusk, men with long poles appeared and the top of the scaffolding and began lighting the 800 candles that cover the statue made of iron, wood, and papier-mache. As the five-ton statue came to life, costume-parades of musicians and flag carriers marched through the crowded streets.
When the church bell rang at 9:00 p.m., one hundred Viterbesi men, the Facchini di Santa Rosa (porters of Santa Rosa) carried the Macchina from Porta Roma through the streets of the ancient city of Viterbo. Carrying the Macchina on their shoulders, the Facchini guided their saint to seven churches where she received the blessings. The procession concluded with the strenuous ascension up to the Plazza de Santa Rosa, the saint’s final resting place.