The Holy Spine has been the beating heart of the religiosity of the people of Petilia for centuries. They visit the Sanctuary from Petilia and from all over the world, wherever they are. They come, even on foot, some barefoot, to express gratitude, to invoke grace. Every year, on the second Friday of March, a penance procession winds from the town to the Sanctuary. It is a multitude in motion, in memory of March 8, 1832, when a very strong earthquake shook the houses of Petilia. It was expected to count thousands of victims and to see mountains of ruins. Instead, there were very few deaths and there was minimal damage. The gratitude was solemn. In memory of that day, every year on March 8, around seven in the evening, as soon as the bell begins to send the chimes of mourning, people light torches and candles on the balconies, on the windowsills.

On the second Friday of March, everyone goes to the procession, which starts from the town, spreads through the streets. The centurion clears the way. His commands are peremptory: Advanced! Alt!

The procession of the penitents starts with Jesus Christ, dressed in red, a crown of thorns around his head, covered by a hood behind which you can see only the eyes of the bearer ‘who plays Jesus’ and who must remain unknown to the people. Another centurion, during the stops, whips the large wood with the chain. People, standing on two sides, witness without saying a word. At the sides of Christ there are the two thieves, and, still behind, the bearers of the lightest crosses, all with the purple tunic and hood. The road is long; the procession goes past the houses, past the vegetable gardens, then goes down to the bridge of the river Soleo, from where the climb begins, it is steep, hard and tormented by stones, up to the Sanctuary, which that day becomes a Golgotha. The procession is called ‘u Carivaru’, the Calvary.

A solemn aura surrounds Santa Spina, the one that usually reveals the presence of divinity. The Sanctuary is like a grandiose amulet set in the side of the mountain in the middle of chestnut and oak trees: a majestic balustrade that allows the gaze to look at the great space of the shore up to the sea.



The mixed uphill and downhill route

Participants in the latest edition

The next edition will be: Friday 8 March