THE DESCENT OF CANDELIERI
A unique festival that will capture your imagination from the morning of August 14th until dawn. wooden candlesticks weighing four hundred kilos a-piece, are carried by the “bearers” along the streets of the old town, until the procession arrives at the Church of Santa Maria of Betlem where a sacred vow is released. This annual tradition is five hundred years old.
The procession of the Candelieri is a popular religious ritual that holds a very important place in the traditions of the city. The main authorities of this festival are the “Gremi” (Craft Guilds), but also the people who participate by following the procession.
In 2013 this event was recognized by UNESCO as a world intangible cultural heritage togheter with Italian Network of the Celebrations of big shoulder-borne processional structures.
The focus of this solemn religious ceremony is focused on the big wooden columns, the music played by the people following the procession and the “li betti”, colored ribbons that adorn the candelieri. The Gremi, dressed in traditional garb, walk in front and open the path for the Descent that on the night of the 14th of August are taken from Piazza Castello to the Church of Santa Maria of Betlem, where a sacred vow to the Madonna dell’Assunta is released. It is said that this sacred figure saved the city from a plague that periodically struck Sassari in ancient times.
The origin of the festival comes from the period of Pisan domination. Since the 13th century, the offer of candles to the Madonna di Mezz’Agosto has been made by the Corporations of Craftsmen of Sassari. Originally, the wax was brought in boxes of wood that eventually took the shape of columns. Currently the Candelieri don’t exceed four hundred kilograms each. There are three parts: the upper part has a flag with the name of the Obriere of the candeliere. Colored ribbons hanging from the top are unfurled by the children of the Gremio. The stem is three meters high, with a diameter of forty centimeters and is carved with the image of the patron saint and the symbols of the gremio. The box on the lower part is furnished with four poles that provide spaces for eight men to carry it.
Thirteen Gremi take part in the Descent.
Procession of the "Small Candelieri"
Piazza santa Caterina
Concert for the Candelieri - Banda Musicale Luigi Canepa
Piazza santa Caterina
CANDELIERE D’ORO, D’ARGENTO, DI BRONZO E SPECIALE
Old town center
LA VESTIZIONE DEI CANDELIERI
“Preparing the Candelieri”
Visit to the guild headquarters
> ore 18.00
City center starting from Piazza Castello
DISCESA DEI CANDELIERI
Procession of the Candelieri
Church of Santa Maria in Betlem
Holy Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin
> ore 18.45
City center starting from San Nicola Cathedral
Solemn procession in honour of the Blessed Virgin