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San Gerardo

The patron saint of Potenza is San Gerardo La Porta, bishop in the 12th century.He was born in Piacenza to a family of marquises, and after dedicating part of his youth to study, he headed towards the South, most likely to embark with the crusaders towards the Holy Land. Having arrived in the city of Potenza, he began to dedicate himself to the apostolic life and stopped there.The closeness of the patron saint of Potenza to the young people earned him the benevolence of all the people who elected him as their pastor.


The patron saint of Potenza was appointed bishop in 1111 and died in 1119. A year after his death, Pope Callistus II proclaimed the patron saint of Potenza a saint, but without any written document.The population immediately began to venerate him, recognizing his merit in having raised the level of education, especially during the Jubilee period, and remembering him for having repelled the invasion of the Turks, an episode that became the fulcrum of the celebrations that take place every year in honor of the patron saint of Potenza on May 29th in the Lucanian capital, with a parade that retraces the crucial moments of that event.

In ancient times, this festival was celebrated on May 11th, but due to climatic conditions it was moved to May 29th. The city traces the performance of May 29th to the alleged invasion of Potenza by a Turkish army, which would have gone up the Basento river to the capital. The citizens, weak in the face of the military organization of the invaders, turned to the bishop, Saint Gerard La Porta, and he, invoking a host of warrior angels, performed the miracle of freeing the city from its enemies.

3) The event ends in the town hall square, where the "Iaccara": a bundle of reeds and wood about twelve meters long which, during the parade, is carried on the shoulders by volunteers in peasant costumes. The Iaccara is raised with arms, climbed by the Capoiaccara and set on fire in honor of the Patron Saint.

2) Following, the great Saracen, renamed "Cipollino", with the aim of exorcising the great fear of the invaders. Surrounding him are hordes of chained Turkish slaves and soldiers who stage fake attac ks on bystanders

1) In the first picture, a large part of the parade features the entry into the city of Count Alfonso de Guevara, the only historical trace of the entire procession officially recognized and collected in the 1578 minutes of the notary Giovanni Antonio Scafarelli

The historical paintings represented date back to 1100, 1500 and 1800. Three well-animated time frames with handcrafted clothes, shoes, armories and make-up with attention to the smallest details.

The sacred procession of San Gerardo begins the day after the Turks' parade. In Largo Duomo, numerous faithful and institutions gather around the effigy of the Saint carried on their shoulders through the main streets of the city, after having first visited all the churches in the centre. A religious silence accompanies the procession. It is the day of the patron saint, 1000 years link him to the community of Potenza that gathers together in prayer. Flowers and prayers rise as the procession passes through streets and buildings; The crowd of devotees gradually grows and, on foot, escort the relic to the Cathedral, where the holy mass will be celebrated in its honor.