THE HOLY WEEK IN ENNA

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THE HOLY WEEK IN ENNA

In Enna, on the occasion of the Holy Week, the Church of Saint Michael has been reopened to the public for a few days. It was a mosque until a few centuries ago. Later, it was converted into a Catholic church.

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During the Arab rule, which lasted about two centuries, Sicily was full of mosques. According to a historian, at that time there were more mosques in Palermo than in Istanbul.
Later, although there were many Catholics and also a few Muslim families, Enna was essentially pagan. The cult of the mother goddess Demeter and her daughter Kore was deep rooted in the hearts of the townspeople.
In 1412 the statue of the patron saint, Maria Santissima della Visitazione, came to Enna. Since then, the whole population has been Catholic.

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Although the Holy Week is a legacy of the Spanish rule in Sicily, some brotherhoods date back to the Nights Templar. One of these is the brotherhood of the Most Holy Savior, which was founded in 1261, before the Spaniards conquered Sicily.
The brethren who belong to the brotherhood of the Holy Savior have the privilege of carrying in procession on their shoulders the glass sarcophagus containing the wooden statue of dead Jesus.
In Enna, during the Holy Week, folklore and religiosity intertwine. It is a unique event that is worth seeing.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

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PALM SUNDAY IN ENNA

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PALM SUNDAY IN ENNA

The very bad weather didn’t prevent the townspeople from pouring into the streets. Everybody followed the procession despite the intense cold.
On Palm Sunday, the brethren take in procession the wooden statue of Jesus.
The procession moves from the Church of San Leonardo to the cathedral church.
After mass in the cathedral, the procession goes back to the Church of San Leonardo.
The brethren who have the privilege of carrying the statue of Jesus on their shoulders are those who belong to the Confraternity of Passion. This brotherhood is one of the sixteen brotherhoods of Enna. It was established in the seventeenth century under the Spanish viceroy. In fact, Sicily was Spanish possession.
The rites of the Holy Week date back to the period of Spanish domination, but some brotherhoods are very old and claim to have been founded by the Knights Templar.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

A MADONNA A MUNTATA (THE RETURNING MADONNA)

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A MADONNA A MUNTATA (THE RETURNING MADONNA)

The cult of Mary is deep-rooted in Enna. Every church has its Madonna to worship: Our Lady of Grace, Madonna of Valverde, Madonna of Children, Madonna of Lourdes, Madonna of the Rosary, and so on. The main Madonna is Our Lady of the Visitation, because she is the patron and the protector of Enna. The celebrations last for two weeks starting from July 2.

Today, the statue of Maria moves from The Monastery of Montesalvo to the duomo where it will remain until the next July 2.

Almost all the townspeople follow or watch the procession. We can say that the cult of Mary is engraved on the DNA of every Enna people.

When Cicero came to Enna which is called the navel of Sicily 2000 years ago, he was mesmerized by the sacredness of the place to such an extent that he felt that the citizens of Enna looked like “omnes sacerdotes” (all priests). He was right definitely.

Twenty centuries have passed since Cicero came here. Although the cult of Demeter has turned into that of Madonna these days, Cicero’s words are still pertinent. Few cities in the world can boast such a traditional cult like Madonna Feast.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

AVALON, THE LOST ISLAND

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AVALON, THE LOST ISLAND

The small town of Glastonbury has been a holy place since time immemorial. It is said that the area was a marshland, and only the Isle of Avalon stood amid the swampy water.

According to legend, King Arthur and his wife Guinevere were buried on the top of the Isle of Avalon. Later the monks of Glastonbury Abbey found the burial place and moved the bones to the abbey where they still lie.

These days, the Isle of Avalon is called “THE TOR”. On the top of it, the Tower of Saint Michael dominates the vast surrounding plains. From up there the view is breathtaking.

All the area around Glastonbury is believed to be mystic.

It is said that Joseph of Arimathea was the Virgin Mary’s uncle. He used to come to England to trade in metals. In one of his travels he even brought the young Jesus with him.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail – the cup from which Jesus drank during the Last Supper, filled with the blood that dripped from the cross- to Glastonbury.

At the foot of “THE TOR”, there are two springs across from each other: “The White Spring” and “The Red Spring”. Their water is thought to be miraculous.

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The “White Spring” is inside a cave. The water flows into two small pools, one bigger than the other.

As soon as I entered the cave, I felt a strange energy, similar to that I had experienced in a cave in Tanzania ten years ago. Here, there were naked people, both women and men, that bathed in the water. Four women stood in a circle with their hands up holding roses in the middle of the wider pool.

Inside the cave, small altars with bones of animals, ribbons, small stones, and similar objects were placed all around.

One of the women in the cave told me that if I dipped my legs in the water my brain would be purified at once.

Inside the cave it was dark. The burning candles couldn’t light it.

The “Red Spring” stands in the open air. The water seems to be colorless. Walking uphill I arrived at “Chalice Well”. The water looked quite reddish due to the iron that it contains.

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In Glastonbury I have learned something more about legends, history and traditions of England. The rites which people perform in the cave of the White Spring are unique.

Some day, if somebody asks me where to go while he is traveling in England I will answer without any hesitation: “Go visit Glastonbury! You will not be disappointed definitely. It is one of the most amazing, mystic, and magic place in the world.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

GOOD FRIDAY IN ENNA PART II

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GOOD FRIDAY IN ENNA

PART II

At five o’ clock in the evening, the Confraternity of the Passion moves from the Church of Saint Leonard and picks up from their churches one by one all the other confraternities. Therefore, it leads the procession. The others follow according to a fixed order.

All the brethren converge to the cathedral and from there they file to the cemetery. The municipal band, the chorus, and the city authorities follow the procession.

Every year, many tourists from all over the world come to Enna to see this event. Apparently, they are mesmerized by the parade. I have seen many of them following the procession hand in hand as if they were townspeople. It seems that they are enraptured with religious fervor.

Actually, a kind of mystic energy transpires from the procession. For what reason? Good Friday is not a mere folk event nor a rite. It is expression of intimate religiosity, innate in the soul of the people of Enna.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

 

GOOD FRIDAY IN ENNA

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GOOD FRIDAY IN ENNA

PART I

In Enna, on Good Friday the procession is made up by fifteen confraternities (brotherhoods). On this day, about two thousand five hundred brethren of all ages file along the streets.

Their attire consists of a white alb, a white girdle, a white hood, a crown of wicker, and a cloak the color of which varies from one confraternity to another.

The oldest confraternity is that of the Most Holy Savior. Its members are granted the privilege to carry on their shoulders the feretory containing the statue of Jesus’s dead body. The color of their cloak is cream with a red cross which seems to evoke that of the Knights Templar. It was established in 1261. It is the oldest in Sicily. It is housed in the church having the same name.

The confraternity of Our Lady of Sorrows was founded relatively recently, but its members enjoy the privilege of carrying on their shoulders the litter of Our Lady. Their cloak is violet with a heart pierced by sever swords. The confraternity is housed in the church having the same name.

The confraternity of the Passion of Our Lord was established in 1660. It has the privilege to carry in procession the litter with the statue of Jesus on Palm Sunday. Furthermore, on Good Friday the brethren bear on trays the signs of the Passion of Jesus: the nails, the crown of thorns, the dice, the spear, and even an alive rooster. Their cloak is purple-red with the effigy of Jesus. The confraternity is housed in the church of Saint Leonard.

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The other not less important confraternities are: The New Woman; The Holy Ghost; Saint Joseph; Holy Souls in Purgatory; The Holy Sacrament; The Virgin; Madonna of the Rosary; Madonna of Valverde (a quarter of Enna); Our Lady of Grace; Sacred Heart of Jesus; Our Lady of Visitation; The Most Holy Crucifix of Pergusa; Saint Anne.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

A HINDU FESTIVAL

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A HINDU FESTIVAL

Walking on the beach in the evening, I saw a small temple that had a festival atmosphere.

Around the temple there were vendors of flowers, bananas, sweets, and toys. There was also music and drum rolls.

Made curious, I walked to the small temple. There was a statue of a god inside.

What is the name of this god?” I asked an old man who looked like a local.

His name is Someshwar.” He answered.

What does Someshwar mean?”

It means ‘protector of the borders.’ All fishermen, whatever religion they have, worship him, because they go far away in the ocean. They believe that Someshwar protects them from the perils of the sea.”

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Behind the temple there is a tree. I saw somebody put offerings on it. Is it a sacred tree?” I asked.

Not sacred.”

So, why people put garlands of flowers, coconuts, and bananas on its trunk and light candles in front of it?”

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Nobody can see the real God. Anything can become God. If somebody worships a tree and puts offerings on it, other people will follow him and the tree will become holy. All religions are made by followers.” The old man said.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

HOW TO REMOVE THE HEX

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HOW TO REMOVE THE HEX

Aunt Filippa opened the cupboard and took out a soup plate and a small cup. She put the plate on my head, asking my mother to hold it fast. Then, she poured some water into the plate and olive oil into the small cup. Finally, she dipped her finger into the small cup of olive oil and dripped some into the water.

I remained with that plate on my head for several minutes. Aunt Filippa was not convinced, and from time to time she dripped more olive oil. Then she scrutinized the shape of the drops.

The drops could take different forms. They could remain as they were, become wider, or even disappear completely. If the drop maintained the same shape it had when it was dripped, it meant that there was no hex on me. If the drop became wider, there was a real hex. Sometimes the drop disappeared completely, and that meant that there was a lot of hex. In my case, the drops disappeared, and for that reason Aunt Filippa dripped olive oil many times.

This boy has a lot of hex,” she said, “but I’ll take it out of him. I swear!”

To do that she made special signs around the plate and said a special prayer, which she had learned from her mother on Christmas Eve. It was a secret prayer that had been handed down from generation to generation. She then concluded, saying that I was now hex free thanks to her prayer.

At the time I barely understood her method of removing the hex, but with passing time I realized that what Aunt Filippa had done probably had a scientific basis. Words, thoughts, and feelings have vibrations. Everything vibrates in the universe. It means that each kind of vibration affects both organic and inorganic matter, including the shape of the drops that Aunt Filippa used to diagnose the hex. In other words, if my body vibrations were good the drops assumed a certain shape; otherwise they got broad or sometimes disappeared.

(Excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History)

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – PART III

 

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OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

PART III

Pilgrims and visitors flocked into the square in front of the new basilica. I saw people, who from their olive complexion seemed to be natives or crossbreeds, carrying litters full of flowers. Some of them laid the litters on the floor and staged devotional songs and dances. I have to say that few times in my life have I seen such beautiful scenery. After having danced and sung, the pilgrims went into the basilica with their litters covered with flowers. I followed them and entered the basilica from one of the gates. It was a round church with an altar opposite the many rows of pews, and the holy image of the Virgin Mary was over it.

I sat on one of the pews and watched the shrine from a distance. Meanwhile, other groups continued to arrive in the basilica and headed for the back of the altar. I followed them and arrived at a moving walkway below the shrine. I admired the holy image for a few seconds while the walkaway moved.

Then I went out of the new basilica. I spent all day at the Villa de Guadalupe and visited the churches and buildings scattered in the area.

The old basilica housed Juan Diego’s cloak until 1974. A museum stands not far from the small old chapel erected on the same spot where the apparition happened. There were many exhibits in the museum. I lingered in a room full of many paintings that portrayed the Virgin of Guadalupe. The painters had tried to make a copy of the original image, but none of them had been able to reproduce it perfectly. Then I stood in front of a photograph, which was an exact copy of the original and had been approved by the ecclesiastic organs. While I was admiring the copy, I heard a voice behind me.

Who knows what the number eight symbolizes?” said a man who was leading a group and who had the air of being a professor.

Nobody in his group answered his question. “The number eight symbolizes the infinite,” I answered.

Exactly!” said the professor. “Now look at Mary’s pink robe. There are eight four-leaf clovers on it.”

Yes, I thought, the Virgin Mary is infinite, beyond space and time. She always has been and always will be. That means that she was on the Hill of Tepeyac long before the Spanish came to Mexico, even though she was worshipped under a different name.

(Excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History)

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

THE FEAST OF THE PATRON SAINT IN ENNA

The pagan worship of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Kore was deeply rooted in Enna until the fifteen century when St. Pancras’ preaching put an end to the multiplicity of cults. At the time, besides the Gentiles and the Catholics there were many Muslim families in Enna.

In 1412 the municipality sent a delegation to Venice to buy a statue that replaced the previous one of the goddess Demeter.

As they couldn’t find an effigy portraying the Madonna alone, they bought a wooden sculpture of Maria holding the baby Jesus and shipped it to Sicily by sea.

According to the legend, when the statue arrived at the slopes of Enna, it became so heavy that it was impossible to move it. Then, the wheat reapers came from the nearby fields and put the statue on their shoulders. With them it became light, and they took it to the cathedral. Ever since that time the simulacrum of the Madonna is carried in procession on a gilded litter only by those belonging to the peasantry. People call it ‘The Golden Ship’. The bearers are around one hundred and consider a great honor to carry the Virgin Mary in procession. The fixed, numbered places under the beams that support the litter are assigned to the descendants of the reapers who first brought the statue to Enna and are passed down from generation to generation; therefore it happens that tall and short brethren carry the litter side by side, with the result that some bear much weight and others less or almost nothing. For this reason the ‘Golden Ship’ proceeds with a slanting pace and sometimes gives the impression that it is about to fall on the crowd.

On July 2, the day of the feast, the crowned wooden sculpture of Our Lady covered with gold – rings, bracelets, necklaces, and so on, preceded by the statues of St. Joseph and St. Michael the Archangel, files between two lines of people.

According to some historians, the feast of July 2 is the same as the old one of Demeter. At that time three statues were also carried in procession. Therefore what matters is the religious feeling which does not depend on the different names you may give to the divinity.

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind