L’Aquila in the Middle Ages
The historical Parade of the Celestinian Bull, which on 28 August of each year traverses the streets of the city, coincides with the rite of Forgiveness. Since its institution, it has solemnly accompanied the Celestinian Bull of Forgiveness from the Palazzo del Magistrato, today known as Palazzo of Margherita d’Austria and seat of the City Hall, up to the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio . Still today its strong social meaning aims at strengthening the bonds between the religious and secular communities.
Indeed, in today’s historical re-enactment of the historical parade, the civil and religious authorities are escorted by dames and knights dressed in historical costumes. The parade features approximately one thousand costumed paraders, representing the historical group of the Municipality of L’Aquila, the fortified villages that contributed to the foundation of the city, each with their own distinctive banner, the Quarters in which the city is organized, and also the historical groups, both Italian and foreign, coming from places related to L’Aquila’s medieval history, such as the delegation from Rottweil, twinned with L’Aquila, in memory of the German printer, Adam from Rottweil, pupil of Gutenberg. In 1481, Adam moved to Venice, introducing the movable type printing system.
The main characters of the parade are: the Lady of the Bull, who carries the cushion on which the cylindrical case is laid and that, until 1997, contained the parchment bull upon which the indulgence of Celestine V is inscribed, and the Young Lord, who carries an olive branch with which once the Cardinal appointed by the Vatican will knock at the door of the Basilica for three times to begin the rite of opening and crossing the Holy Door. Among the other figures is the Lady of the Cross, who carries the cushion on which the cross is laid and that the Mayor will donate to the designated Cardinal on behalf of the city of L’Aquila.
The Bull of Forgiveness, will be granted on display for a day in the Church built by Celestine. The following day, On 29 August, at dusk, the Holy Door is closed by the Archbishop of L’Aquila and the Bull is again accompanied by a solemn, though less sumptuous, historical parade to the Municipal House thus ending the ritual cycle of the Celestinian Forgiveness Celebration.