August 2017

Every seven years, the septennial rites in honour of Our Lady of the Assumption are held in Guardia Sanframondi (BN). More than 80% of the local population participates in the ritual. They live in four districts: Croce, Portella, Fontanella and Piazza. During the ritual week, each district celebrates two processions separately in which only local residents participate. Only on the last day all the inhabitants of all the districts come together in one great procession through all the streets of the center. Each district participates in the event with a series of “living pictures” depicting episodes of the Holy Scriptures and stories of saints. The actors of “living pictures” are actually the inhabitants of the four districts. At the general procession the “battenti” also attend: 900 hooded men who beat their breasts with “sponge”, a piece of cork from which 33 pins sprout, whose blood drips on the road. The ritual takes place in absolute anonymity. There are three important moments that mark the general procession: the exit of “battenti” from the sanctuary, the exit of the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption, the meeting of the “battenti” and the statue. The ritual, in its complexity, can be defined as “archaic” according to Victor Turner because it highlights the relationship, in Guardia Sanframondi, between communitas and societas or, in other words, the social relations existing in the whole context of the city, made of various and divergent needs, that only through ritual become consistent.

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