Candle lighting Procession

Lighted candles surrounding windows and doorways during the 3-hour procession

Lucca, Italy is our first stop during our 2013 Italy Retreat for Women. If you are unable to view this video of some of the women talking about Lucca and the Italy Retreat in 2012, please click here.

During this 5th Annual Italy Retreat for Women in 2013, I have scheduled our adventure to include the Luminara, Candle Lighting Procession, in Lucca. For me, my 2013 Retreat in Lucca is unique because our time there coincides with the holy candle lighting procession, The Luminara di Santa Croce, that winds through Lucca on Friday evening, September 13, (and every September 13, no matter what day it falls on ).

It is believed that this ritual, in different forms, dates back to 800 BC. I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s just something awesome about following an ancient ceremony that began 2800 years ago.

Thousands of candles shine brightly all around the windows of the buildings located throughout Lucca as the Lucchese, carrying candles,  many dressed in their Medieval costumes parade from San Frediano church through piazzas to San Martino church. Tourists and pilgrims from around the world fill the streets to marvel at  the long procession that is so long that by the time the beginning of the procession is entering San Martino, the group in back is still within San Frediano Church.

The festival called Luminara di Santa Croce is a celebration of “il Volto Santo,” a wooden sculpture of Christ. Legend says that this cross was made by Nicodemus, one of Jesus’ followers, after the Crucifixion.

This is only one of the magical aspects of Lucca. Two of the most delicious morsels about Lucca (there are many) is the feeling of ‘old Italy,’ because we are safely able to stroll throughout the walled city, enjoying the everyday activities of Lucca, without racing vespas and constant flow of cars to compete with. Because Lucca has been lived in for over two thousand years, and in all the wars and takeovers, has never been destroyed, the old world presence is palpable.

My second favorite part for me is that Lucca is known as a city of music. Even during the Luminara, you will hear singing, followed by a choir in Church as seen on this VIDEO In addition, every night from March 31-October 31, at the Church of San Giovanni, Puccini and Mozart Concerts take place from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. [Due to restorations of the Church, lasting From July 6 to November 2013, the concerts will take place in the Oratorio di San Giuseppe al Museo della Catedrale di Lucca, just 300 feet from the Church of San Giovanni.]

The schedule is reduced from November 1 through March 30, as concerts take place only on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Festas and celebrations are an important aspect of Italian life all over Italy. May your travels to Italy include participating in many of them!

What are your favorite festivals in Italy?


Learn more about traveling to Italy on Lenora’s Italy Retreats For Women
Find out more about Lenora’s Sweet Life Workshops and Sweet Life Happiness Coaching.

You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.