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Photo © Domenico Bertuccelli
Photo © Domenico Bertuccelli

Festa di Santa Croce in Lucca


The "city of 100 churches" celebrates the cult of the Volto Santo

Every year the city of Lucca celebrates Santa Croce in great style. The events take place in mid-September and include the evocative Luminara di Santa Croce, held through the streets and squares of the historic center, lit up with thousands of lights and candles, while people in medieval costume parade through and mix with the onlookers.

The nighttime procession follows a very specific protocol and itinerary, specifically the "miraculous journey" of the Volto Santo (Holy Face), the wooden crucifix housed in the Cathedral of San Martino which tradition has it was made by Nicodemus based on the real face of Jesus. The relic, venerated from the Middle Ages throughout Europe as one of the most important in Christianity, was transported from Luni to Lucca and initially placed in the church of San Frediano.

The court procession opens with the Stendardo del Volto Santo, a work painted by the Lucchese artist Michele Marucci at the end of the 19th century; next up is the Croce di Fiori (Flower Cross), carried out each year by the flower cultivators of Viareggio.
The itinerary begins in the basilica of San Frediano, continues along via Fillungo, and then moves toward piazza San Michele, piazza del Giglio and, finally, ends in piazza San Martino.

For some years now, the tradition of the mottettone has also been reinstated – a performance of a polyphonic composition, usually created specifically for the occasion by predominantly Lucchese musicians, who close out the evening celebrations in the cathedral.

On the next day, a solemn mass is held.