Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Celebrating St Cristina at Bolsena

Today is the traditional feast day of the early fourth century Virgin and Martyr St Cristina - or Christina - which has been reduced in its observance by the Catholic Church to an optional memorial since 1969, as is explained in the Wikipedia entry about her and her cult. This can be seen at Christina of Bolsena

However in the lakeside town of Bolsena in central Italy, her main centre of devotion in the west, celebrating the Feast is still a major event. A very elaborate passion play is enacted each year ( coronavirus presumably permitting this year ) on the Vigil and Feast of their patron saint by the local community. The play consists of ten tableaux vivants performed on stages set up in the city squares, five on the evening of the Vigil and five on the Feast. The origins of this Passio appear to be lost as to its date but clearly it is today a spectacular and very dramatic presentation. 

I posted about her cultus in 2016 with links to images of St Cristina drawn from the Mefievsl Religion Discussion Group as well as the Passio and that can all be seen at St Christina of Bolsena

I have now found another very handsomely illustrated account of the performance of the Paddio from Bizzarro Bazar which looks at the legend of the saint and the anthropology and mythology involved in the presentation. It can be seen at The Mysteries of Saint Cristina

As I remarked in my earlier post five years ago it is not quite the thing most parishes could, or might wish to attempt …

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