19. Sep, 2021
Sadly I have not been able tgo post for some time, but now I am back it is time to catch up. I missed the Palio this year. It is Pietralunga's biggest festival, a season of events and celebrations to celebrate a miracle. 400 people sit down to eat n the town square, the town divides into 5 teams to race a medieval wagon up the hill to the Piazza. There are parties all over the Old Town. Music, Dancing and a good time is had by all. it is impossible not to get swept along by the sheer energy of the celebrations. And why?
"The Palio della Mannaja or Axe Festival is a historical re-enactment that takes place every year in Pietralunga in the month of August, more precisely on the second Sunday of the month.
The Palio is the most important historical event in the town, it recalls an event that really happened in Pietralunga on 11 September 1334, when Giovanni di Lorenzo of Picardy on his way to a pilgrimage to Lucca passed through the territory of Pietralunga, where he was wrongly accused of murdering a man and sentenced to death. Shortly before the execution, the unfortunate man turned confidently to the Holy Face and when the executioner tried to cut off his head with an axe, something miraculous happened: the cutting edge of the blade turned to the opposite side.
There are many witnesses to this fact including a letter signed by Branca de’ Branci, who was the Podestà (i.e. Mayor) of Pietralunga, and the same axe used in the execution that is kept in the Cathedral of Lucca hanging near the Chapel of the Holy Face as evidence of the miracle that occurred in Pietralunga.
Today one can admire the axe in front of the Chapel of the Holy Face, on the right column, in the Cathedral of Lucca, where the visitor can also admire the bas-relief of the “axe that does not offend an innocent”.Just below the bas-relief, we find a commemorative marble plaque recalling the miracle, one of manyperformed by the Holy Face, and stating the following:
“Stop for a moment and admire the prodigy. In the year of the Lord 1334 Giovanni di Lorenzo begged with prayer for help to this holy cross, the blade raised for his death keeps him alive and makes him innocent: since he had been falsely accused of murder, his throat promptly subjected to the blade three times, and the blade softens to save him. It must be learned that innocence can obtain miracles.”
Everyday here brings miracles.