Considered among the most beautiful parties in Sicily,
discover the great event of the majestic triumphal chariot in motion.
It has very ancient origins since it was first celebrated in 1677 and is among the holidays most popular of the Sicily, followed by all over the world. The protagonist of the celebrations is the Holy Crucifix of the Nazarene.
The symbol the most representative and folkloric of the festival is the “Triumphal Chariot” in honor of the Nazarene which is symbolically pulled for a 400 meter path by a pair of oxen, but really, by the devotees by means of an 80 meter long rope.
The Triumphal Chariot, composed of a boat-shaped base and a central tower that rises towards the sky, celebrates the glorious Christ; the "boat", in religious iconography, well represents the Church which, led by Jesus with his people, faces the challenges of history, instead the Tower represents the link between heaven and earth and can symbolize the aspiration of man towards infinity.
25 and 26 June 2022
The Triumphal Chariot, built on the occasion of the feast of Jesus Nazarene which is celebrated on the second Sunday of June, has always attracted and intrigued for its particular artisan structure and for its majesty and grandeur, and for this reason, among the many popular festivals of the Sicily, the feast of Jesus Nazarene can certainly be defined as unique.
On the Chariot of Jesus Nazarene there are no documents with which to attempt a reconstruction of its origins. What is certain is that during the Spanish domination, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the custom of building sacred chariots was widespread in Sicily. Usually these were solid wooden structures with a pyramid shape, embellished with sculptures and covered with cloths painted with religious motives, pulled by oxen, by efforts and popular enthusiasm on the occasion of the most important holidays or the patron saint.
The construction of the wagon takes place in the initial part of Corso Francesco Crispi, the main street of the town, and extends for about forty days. Traditionally, the wood with which the Cart is built, which is kept in warehouses, is taken out giving rise to the so-called "nisciuta di lignama".
The Triumphal Chariot is one of the few in Sicily to have preserved the wooden structure and is the only one to reach a height of about 22 meters. It has a pyramidal shape and is made up of superimposed quadrangular sectors, of scale up to the top, where the crown and the cross are placed, symbols of Jesus Nazarene. The most important sector is the one placed at the base, in the shape of a rectangular parallelepiped, elongated at the stern and bow like a boat, where, during the journey, the musical bands of San Giovanni Gemini and Cammarata are arranged, which during the "scinnuta" Saturday and “l'acchianata” on Sunday, with their music underline the triumph of the Chariot.
From the center of the aforementioned parallelepiped rises the central beam, the supporting axis of the tower which, due to static problems deriving from the sloping roadway (6.8% on average), has the vertex inclined backwards by 8-10%. This technical peculiarity makes the construction exceptional.
The entire structure of the wagon rests on a base with a very resistant frame, to which the non-mobile axles and the spoked wheels are linked, each of which has a diameter of 1.32 meters and a width of 10 centimeters.
The center of the base, then, leaves the large beam 7.50 meters long, which acts as a rudder, protruding horizontally from the front. The latter, being fixed like the axles, is wisely maneuvered by about twenty people and moved with strong lateral thrusts, in order to allow the carriage to move sideways during the journey that is not completely straight.
A large rope of "zabara" (agave), about 80 meters long, is wisely tied to the block that is formed, which is used for the police to pull or brake the cart.
The width of the Cart, 4.15 meters, is conditioned by the limited width of Corso F. Crispi between the transversal streets Papa Giovanni XXIII and Teatro.
The Chariot is then externally decorated with fabrics of various colors, adorned with velvet drapes, with pictorial decorations, enriched with architectural elements such as ribs, columns, capitals, frames, is then enriched with multicolored flags, embellished in the title pages with images of Jesus Nazareno, of the Virgin Mary and of all the saints revered by popular piety Sangiovannese and Cammaratese.
The preceding enlightenment, constituted with festoons of incandescent lamps distributed along the profiles of the structure, it has recently been replaced by a new system with lighting through LED lights and strips, obtaining a very suggestive effect.
In 2015, the committee fully acquired the construction and outfitting of the precious heritage handed down, through the purchase of new wood, fabrics and the new lighting system, to the point that it was necessary for the wagon to undergo a new architectural and artistic-stylistic reconfiguration.
In this regard, many members of the Committee have implemented innovative interventions and new design lines that combine tradition and innovation.
The polychromy of the drapes and the reflections of the lights create such a variety of colors that it enchants the spectators.
Origins, tradition and Christian faith
Those who want to relive an experience of faith and attend moments of great folklore, can participate in the feast of Jesus Nazarene, which takes place every year in San Giovanni Gemini on the second Sunday of June, where the devotion of the Sangiovannese and Cammaratese communities is expressed with gestures of particular religious significance (procession of votive candles) and symbols of great folkloric value (Triumphal Chariot).
The festival has very ancient origins having been celebrated for the first time in 1677, as some documents testify.
It was the archpriest Francesco Giambruno, the first archpriest of San Giovanni Gemini, who commissioned the statue of the SS. Passionate crucifix named after Jesus Nazarene, and he himself had the permission of the Bishop of Agrigento to bless it.
This Crucifix aroused such great faith and such a feeling in the "Sangiovannese" that it was celebrated with solemnity and carried in procession through the town.
From the mid-nineteenth century onwards the party was enriched with the Triumphal Chariot.
Popular tradition says that the statue was found by some peasants at the Puzzilo hill, today the Well of Jesus Nazarene, and from there the statue was brought to the village on a cart pulled by oxen who stopped in the square and then the statue was placed in the Mother Church, first in the transept and then, in 1758, in the high altar later embellished by a chapel adorned with precious marble with the offerings of emigrants to America.
It is a wooden statue of an unknown author, colored brown and with a passionate but serene and sweet face, with a loving smile of mercy and barely hinted at love, which conquers those who go to his feet to pray to him.
Around the Crucifix are three colored stucco statues: on the right standing St. John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene kneeling, while on the left the Virgin of Sorrows upright.
Devotion to Jesus Nazarene is rooted in the heart and life of every Sangiovannese and Cammaratese, also involving the inhabitants of neighboring villages who often come on pilgrimage. This devotion is expressed in the invocation for help and in the request for particular graces which find their culminating moment in the "journey on bare feet" and in the gratitude for the grace received with the moving procession of votive candles on the feast day.
A devotion so rooted in the culture of the people that the emigrants themselves carry it with them, remembering it in their places of stay with special moments and festivals as happens for the Sangiovannesi of Bayonne (USA) who celebrate on the same date carrying a copy of the statue in procession and reproducing the Triumphal Chariot. (source official site)
The triumphal chariot
Historical photographic repertoire
On Saturday morning you enter the festive atmosphere. At noon the “maschiata” takes place, a show of firecrackers that is set up along Corso Francesco Crispi, as if to announce the path of the Chariot.
The crackles of the firecrackers symbolize a crown of the Holy Rosary aimed at the purification and preparation of the sacred path of the Triumphal Chariot.
It is a unique show attended by many faithful.
Meanwhile, other faithful from the different districts of San Giovanni Gemini and Cammarata, approach the two rows, forming two very long human cords.
Many citizens, who during the year have expressed a "vote" or obtained the "grace" invoked, walk barefoot as a sign of devotion.
The long procession then arrives in the Mother Church; the two long human lines enter, and, after having placed the offering in the urn, the faithful in an atmosphere of prayer, go to the high altar to pay homage to the simulacrum of Jesus Nazarene.
It is an orderly, silent and moving procession, marked by the recitation of the Holy Rosary and by penitential songs that sees faithful united by the same faith. towards the Nazarene, enduring the long journey and the scorching midday sun.
When the golden crown enters the Church, the latter is packed in every corner; the coronation rite, for some years, has been presided over by the Archpriest pro tempore who places it on the head of the simulacrum and the faithful devotees, with vehemence and ovation utter the famous "W JESUS NAZARENO".
Immediately afterwards the thanksgiving Mass begins, animated by the chants of the choir.
The various phases of the party
Tradition has it that the timber is taken out of the warehouses where it is kept, 40 days before.
The firing of the firecrackers and the sound of the bells of the Matrix announce "a nisciuta di legnami du Carru" and the beginning of the intense preparations for the feast of Jesus Nazarene for the members of the committee.
The following Sunday, at noon, " u primu chiuavu " is planted, also followed by gunfire and the sound of bells, which symbolically indicates the start of the construction of the Chariot.
Once the building has reached its final height, it is decorated.
On Friday morning the wheels are applied to the spindles and the final checks are carried out on the structure.
Positioning of the wheels "a 'mmurditura di l'assi e du timuni"
On Friday morning the spoked wheels are positioned on the spindles, each of which has a diameter of 1.32 meters and a width of 10 cm.
The operation of the "'mmurditura of the axes and rudders" in an almost ritual form is one of the most important operations of the preparation of the Chariot.
It consists in tying, with 10 cords of "cannamu" (hemp) with a diameter of 2 cm and
length of 18 m, to the two lateral beams and to the central ones of the base of the wagon respectively to the axles and to the rudder.
The ropes are considered more suitable for the occasion than iron bands, because they allow greater solidity and flexibility.
At the block, formed by the two central beams of the base and the rudder, the "coaming cord or cord" is affirmed, that is the large "zabbàra" (agave) rope, about 80 meters long and with a diameter of 4 cm, which is used by the people to brake or pull the chariot.
On Sunday morning the "'mmurditura" tie the rudder to the opposite side of the base and make preparations for the ascent of the wagon.
Two hours before the "scinnuta" and "acchianata" the strings are wetted in order to make them more resistant.
In view of them
"A vistuta di li vua" concerns the decoration of the oxen that precede the Cart which in ancient times were used to tow it.
They are adorned with traditional red, purple and black velvet vestments, finely embroidered with gold thread and paper flower garlands. Such oxen are offered by breeders for vow or devotion to Jesus of Nazareth.
"A vistuta di li vua" takes place in via Teatro in the afternoon of Saturday and Sunday by the Lombino family, and lovingly cared for by the Russotto and Amormino families who have this task by tradition.
Before the decoration, the hooves of the animals are polished and then painted black.
The animals are then kept paired with a large piece of wood, called "u iugu", placed across the neck.
Once the decoration has been completed, while the musical band intones some marches, the Lombino family cheers up those present with refreshments.
Before the departure of the Cart, the oxen, accompanied by the musical band, are led by the owners and members of the committee near the Cart.
In the past, according to a widespread custom, as they passed men uncovered their heads and made the sign of the cross.
The procession of votive candles and the thanksgiving mass
From the first light of dawn on Sunday, the sleep of the Sangiovannese is abruptly interrupted by the rhythmic roar of the alborata, a characteristic firing of blank bombs that anticipates the richest fireworks of the evening;
immediately after, the solemn Eucharistic Concelebration at 7.00, inaugurates the Penitential Procession of the Votive Candles.
Around 8.30, the moving procession with the golden crown begins. The faithful, who present the "journey" to Jesus Nazarene, arrange themselves in two rows, proceeding slowly with candles in hand, through the main streets of the town; they are followed by the golden crown.
The golden crown
The golden crown, weighing approximately 1.5 kg, is the fruit of the love and devotion of the Sangiovannese and cammaratesi to Jesus Nazarene. The idea of forming a golden crown with i votive gifts had surfaced in 1960 with the consent of the clergy, committee, and devoted citizens. Since the votive gifts were not sufficient to cover the expenses, it was decided to collect more gold in the two countries. Then truly moving scenes took place: Sangiovannese and Cammaratesi of all ages spontaneously flocked to the committee and generously offered objects of all types and sizes.
On 11 June 1961, in the center of Piazza Nazareno, the dream came true: Mons. Giovan Battista Peruzzo, at that time Archbishop of Agrigento, he encircled the head of Jesus Nazarene with a golden crown in the presence of numerous faithful in a riot of joy and emotion.
In reality, the golden crown could represent a contradiction to the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Crucified. Instead, it is a testimony of faith, a symbol of liberation, in fact the approach of the golden crown to the crown of thorns is happy, because once it is trodden on the head of Jesus, it is embellished because he is the King.
The Holy Cross
The Holy Cross was bought by the members of the committee of the feast of Jesus Nazarene. However, since the sum of 1000 lire needed to buy it was not available, Mr. Napoli, very devoted to the SS. Crucified, he decided to prepare the sum and then leave it as a dowry to his family.
We do not know the year in which the Holy Cross was bought due to the absence of the purchase and sale documents. The date of 1887, which can be read at the bottom of the long arm, is the year of construction.
The Holy Cross 2.60 m high and 1.50 m wide, is made of copper with silver casting and is supported inside by a precious wood structure of the same size.
In the shape of a Latin cross, it has artistically worked trefoil terminals, with the high-relief bust of the three evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke in the center. In the center of the long arm, the relief of the head of John the Evangelist and two cherubs holding a floral frieze stand out.
The Cross is beautifully decorated with low-reliefs depicting Roman military ornaments and friezes relating to the crucifixion and death of Christ.
On the Friday of the feast, the Holy Cross, after the blessing in the church of Santa Lucia, is solemnly carried in procession through the main streets of the town to the Mother Church. Here he remains there until Monday, the final day of the celebrations, making the opposite route in a solemn procession towards the church of S. Lucia.
The most important feast of the year for the two communities of San Giovanni Gemini and Cammarata ends solemnly with the blessing and thanks of the parish priest.
And everyone shouted to me
"Long live Jesus Nazzarè"
A cunnuciuta du carru
On Saturday the "scinnuta" of the Triumphal Chariot takes place along Corso Francesco Crispi for about 380 meters, while on Sunday it retraces the reverse route called “L'acchianata du Carru”.
It is such a characteristic, singular and folkloric event that it stimulates the return of many emigrants from Sangiovannese and Cammarate and to attract the curiosity and attention of many foreigners.
The oxen are placed in front of the cart, the musical bands of San Giovanni Gemini and Cammarata are arranged on both sides of the "boat" at the stern and the bow.
The departure of the Chariot in procession is a moment particularly awaited by the populations gathered between the Ecce Homo chapel and Piazza Largo Nazareno.
Before leaving, the priest invokes the protection of Jesus Nazarene for the whole journey and gives the blessing to the Chariot and to the people. The deafening firing of the firecrackers announces the imminent departure, the bell attendant invites the population to arrange themselves along the "cordon" useful to stop the chariot. The crowd shouts several times "Long live Jesus Nazarene", all waving the flags, the wedges and the Chariot are removed begins its journey.
The chariot thus begins its slow descent, with small stages, while the music of the two bands alternate in symphonies.
Once, when the road surface was uneven, the movement of the Chariot was much more dangerous and, to make it easier, the branches of the gorse in full bloom were placed in the road; today, in memory of that time, the broom flowers are thrown from the top of the chariot, throwing from the top of the triofale chariot and from the adjacent balconies, also colored paper flyers with the words “Viva Gesù Nazareno”.
The festive procession of the Chariot ends near via Rossini, on the edge of the historic center, between crackling of firecrackers, the harmonious sound of the thanksgiving marches of the musical bands and the “Viva Gesù Nazareno” of the crowd.
The next day, Sunday, there is “l'acchianata du Carru”. The large rope that during the "scinnuta" was used to brake the chariot, will instead be used to be pulled by the faithful towards the finish.
Furthermore, the rudder, no longer useful in its original position, is tied on the opposite side of the base, so that during the "catch" it protrudes from the front.
The jokes of fuacu
The fascinating fireworks display takes place after the arrival of the Chariot on Sunday evening.
It is a show of artistic fireworks and everyone admires the colors, the polychrome rains of light, the pinwheels and the bombs.
The fireworks display concludes the celebrations in honor of Jesus Nazarene.
How to get there and where to park
FROM THE SS189 AGRIGENTO \ PALERMO STATE: at the crossroads take the provincial road
SP26 San Giovanni Gemini - Cammarata, possibility of parking in various points on the
via A. better (sp26) Sports hall \ Cemetery for bus loading / unloading, if necessary ask the authorized personnel and municipal police. For more detailed information contact the Municipal Police Headquarters 0922 903260