August 31st – September 2nd
The pilgrimage for the festival of the Madonna della Montagna di Polsi, which takes place in San Luca in the heart of Aspromonte, starts on August 31st and ends on September 2nd. It has ancient origins is still very much celebrated today. Loyalists come from Calabria and Eastern Sicily. While the pilgrims arrived on Polsi on foot or on the backs of mules in the past, taking one or more days, today it can be reached by car or by truck, with only the last section being covered on foot.
The procession for the statue of the Madonna begins in the middle of the night, being carried on a truck while Viva Maria is sung along the streets crossing few buildings gathered around the sanctuary, carried by the fishermen of Bagnara on their shoulders and after many hours have passed, the sanctuary is reached while singing hymns to the Virgin Mary. From the moment the Queen of the Mountain is raised, the faithful shout “Viva Maria!”, while praise is given to the virgin between band music and songs of devotees. Between the explosion of barrels and fireworks, there is a real riot of resonances and popular sounds. For the last section of the procession, the porters arrive while running, bringing the perfectly poised statue forward with a significant choreographic and gestural elegance. The women in the central nave of the sanctuary walk on their knees, beating their breasts. The sacraments of penance and the Eucharist are administered, a final greeting to the Virgin is given, and ex-votos are offered.
The atmosphere is that of a primordial rite, with the wild tarantella dance being performed. (Several years ago, one could also witness the killing of the goats, which were then roasted on the spot and shared as a meal, a custom that was rooted in sacrifices to the gods of the Greek world. Today it is no longer allowed).
The faithful give a final farewell to the Madonna and the party ends in the evening with song and dance.
On the last night, people sleep inside the sanctuary, as the page ritual of incubation dictated.