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)