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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Festa Day for San Biagio in Marta – February 3rd 2011



Today has been a local holiday in Marta, as February 3rd is the feast day for one of their Patron Saints, San Biagio in Italian. I know very little about Saint Blaise as he is known in English, apart from the information there is to be found on Wikipedia in English or Italian.  

Saint Biagio was born in the 3rd century AD  in Armenia, where he eventually became a physician and Bishop of Sebastea, Armenia, (modern day Sivas, Turkey). He blessed throats and effected many miracles, often depicted using crossed candles. The most common story that was explained to us this morning is the saving of a child’s life, by getting him to eat bread after fish bones were stuck in the child’s throat. Of course this is nowadays a well known way of clearing fish bones lodged in the throat, but now you know where the idea originates from.

This morning in Marta there was a mass held in his honour, which the locals tell us is a very important service for the blessing of throats, as it is believed he will intercede in the case of throat illnesses. After mass the service continues with a procession through the streets of Marta with a hymn and prayers in his honour throughout the parade.

Afterwards the festa atmosphere continues with locals enjoying a passegiata and perusing the usual stalls that appear on such occasions.

Piazza Umberto Marta

The bells ringing as Mass ends.

Fur coats out in force in the Commune of Marta this morning, it was bitterly cold.


I have chosen a small selection of photos to share with you here, the full set can viewed at Flickr.com in my album entitled

Festa Day for San Biagio, clicking on the link will take you directly there.

Copyright All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection except the print which is courtesy of sanbiagiomodena.it


  1. What fun, the Patron Saint of throats! Love the photos - I don't think I have ever seen that many fur coats. How cold is "cold?"

  2. Interesting post with great photos. I have never heard of a blessing for throats before.... Diane

  3. Great post Linda. When I was a child and attended Catholic School we celebrated his feast day with a mass and a blessing of the throats (with the two candles). I haven't though about that in a long time, but your post reminded me of it!

  4. Hi Linda. That is certainly unusual, the blessing of throats! Good photos and interesting post. The fur coats look good. I particularly liked the first one! (Lighter colour). That coat looks quite expensive!

  5. Me again - As you know, I have your Blog button on my sidebar, but I keep meaning to say to you, that did you realize that it doesn't take people to your Blog, but just into the Banner Fans site. I don't know if there is anything you can do about this - ?

  6. Hi Lindy. The pictures are so good! I loved how the deep blue sky matches the uniform of the men in the band! Did you notice it?

  7. The weather looks good even if it is cold. It is rare to see a fur coat in the UK despite the cold weather.

  8. Ciao Linda, awwww, fantastic post and gorgeous photos! I am a bit nostalgic now ;) I truly miss the blessing of the throats with the two candles... and Italy, of course.

    I just sent you an e-mail about the "filastrocca of the months, hope you got it 'cos my internet connection comes and goes today.

    Good night and happy rest of the week!

  9. what an interesting post. What a special celebration. As I've told you before, I'm SO happy to be Italian/Sicilian, and your blog gives me a glimpse into my grandparents countries! Thank you for that...

  10. Wonderful photos, Linda! I have heard of San Biagio but never realized he was St. Blaise! Gosh I remember having my throat blessed as a child. My mother insisted upon it.

  11. Beautiful photos! I just love the blue.

  12. That was an interesting post. I remember when my daughter went to study in Italy she talked about the people dressed in fur coats and really puffy ski jackets when it was plus 7. When it gets that warm in winter here it's open jacket weather and people are smiling. A few days ago it was -32C here in Alberta with a wind chill warning of -44. Then we try not to leave the house!

  13. Even if times change, we need a few traditions for the holidays. Beautiful city photos!

  14. Sounds great! I have to say, you do have a pretty cool priest - in fact he looks rather disreputable, with his dark glasses... :-)

  15. Cold morning to be outside for long, but at least it was sunny.
    I find it pleasing to have these festive traditions, with the bands and banners. And I am thinking how that would really mess up traffic here.

  16. Wow, the festivals in your town are just amazing! And I well remember all the ladies in their fur coats from my time in Northern Italy.

    Have a great weekend! – g

  17. Great photos! A festa for every occasion! The band looks very impressive and purposeful.
    I like how you've captured the ringing bells in the tower.

  18. Never without a festa! So good to see these photos, and the way the locals dress up to go out for a passegiata.

  19. Laura@ Yesterday it was about 5C but the wind made it feel much colder. I know it is not at all cold compared to some places, but the Italians definitely feel the cold!
    Diane@ No neither had I until we moved to Marta two years ago.
    Cheshire Wife@ No stigma attached to wearing fur here :)
    Kia@ No email has arrived yet, never mind if it is a hassle. How long will you be living in the UK?
    Marissa@ I am delighted my blog gives you this opportunity.
    Patricia@ I was interested to read that you had your throat blessed as a child, it seems a number of you commenting here remember this.
    Shelia@ Now those temperatures really are cold, we have no idea really here in Italy do we. The coldest I have seen it this winter early in the morning is minus 5C.
    Linda@ Thanks, I was thinking I really should have made a little video of the bells!

  20. Happy Sunday! :)
    I sent you another e-mail, hope you will get it :) No hassle at all.
    We don't know yet how long we will stay in the UK. Zeno likes his job here, so... a dryer and sunnier weather would help, LOL!


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