18 imagesThe ritual starts about at 8 in the morning when the procession of the statue of the Pieta begins from one of the small village churches. The "Vattienti" (beaters) are dressed in black with their head covered with a crown of thorns. Each of them is accompanied by a local boy covered by a red cloth and caring a cross called "acciomu" (Ecce Homo, in latin as said by Ponzio Pilato she he saw Jesus before the crucifixion), a symbolic sign of connection with Jesus Passion. The vattiente runs in to the village street hitting his legs with a cork containing glass bits, when he cross the Virgin Mary statue he stops and start flagellating him self
39 imagesOn the night of the Holy Thursday the small village is lively, people of the village and few turist are on the cold street of the village of Verbicaro on the mountains of Calabria. Everybody is waiting for the Battenti (beater). The number of Battenti is always uncertain as is the time they will appear, probably around one or two in the morning. While people is waiting in the squares and on the street, small groups of men are eating and drinking in the ancient wine cellars. That where the ritual of the 'first blood' take place. The banquet continues until a signal, at that point the chairs, the food and the tables are drawn back and the small space of the room is left to the battenti. The atmosphere is changed and the sound of the banquet transformed in the silence of the ritual. The Battenti arrives dressed in red and start to slap their legs to make the blood flow, after that they start beat with a 'cardillo', a piece of wood containing small glass bits. The blood to cover their legs in just few minutes. When their legs are completely covered in blood the leave the wine cellar and star a run with their hands across their chest in to the street of the village. They go around the town three times stopping in front of churches, in which the can not enter, niches, statues and friends and relatives houses. After the tree round the stop to a fountain to wash and complete the ritual. This rituals first documented in 1473 was close to extinction, the number of battenti was very small and the local church was considering them as a public order problem. Now they are back and in the all region there is a feeling of profound respect for them. At three o clock in the morning the solemn procession starts, the all village participates, children women and men. The celebrations ends at dawn.