The feast of San Prospero, patron saint of the city, on 24 November opens Reggio Emilia’s journey of celebration and hope towards Christmas. Perhaps on a few other occasions we have searched as we search this year for a meaning to everything that happens and involves cities, countries, continents. And this celebration, which is an ancient, strong and typical expression of the city’s faith and tradition, can be an important occasion: everyone can participate, everyone can spontaneously gather at least the sense of being a community. The feast of San Prospero actually anticipates Christmas.
After the ringing of the bells from the tower of the patron saint’s basilica at 10.15, the liturgical program for Thursday 24 November includes a solemn Mass presided over by Archbishop Giacomo Morandi at 11 in the Basilica of San Prospero. At 17.30, again in the basilica, the second solemn Vespers followed by the evening Mass at 18.00.
The opportunities for meeting and celebrating for San Prospero will in fact take place for four days, also including the weekend, from Friday to Sunday, with various initiatives, including the opening to free visits of the bell tower and the treasure of the Basilica of San Prospero.
In the organization of the event, in addition to the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, the Diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla and the guardians of the basilica of San Prospero, cultural and commercial institutions and organizations are involved.
THEY SAID – At the press conference to present the initiatives for the feast of the patron saint of Reggio Emilia, the mayor Luca Vecchi underlined “the sense of community that is nurtured around the feast of the patron saint and which is well demonstrated by the very large participation of different players in the construction of this year’s program, a program that is back to being complete after the limitations of recent years due to the pandemic”. The mayor also thanked, among others, “the voluntary workers and the great solidarity of Reggio Emilia, from the world of education and commerce who contribute in their various fields to enliven the celebration of 24 November and the following days”.
“This year San Prospero – said Mariafrancesca Sidoli, councilor for the enhancement of the historic center and commerce – offers four days of events, as it should be for one of the most eagerly awaited and dearest celebrations for the people of Reggio. Four days that prelude Christmas and bring with them the desire to meet, immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the many initiatives that are developed in the various places of the historic center, between tradition, markets, food and wine, local crafts and solidarity events. A day dedicated to the patron saint of the city already accompanied by some Christmas notes, with the first switching on of the street lights and the Christmas tree”.
Don Matteo Bondavalli, director of the diocesan liturgical office, spoke of the feast of San Prospero as “a beautiful tradition, in which the people of Reggio continue every year to entrust themselves to their patron saint with great affection and participation, and I believe that this can be also appreciated by Bishop Giacomo, who celebrates the feast of San Prospero for the first time as Pastor of our Diocese.
“It will be a celebration without limitations, but not without worries – added Fr Bondavalli – considering what is happening in the world. I believe that San Prospero 2022 could be an opportunity to make us appreciate how much better what unites us is than what divides us”.
The press conference was also attended by Marco Ferrari, delegate to represent the Fabbrica del Duomo and the basilica of San Prospero, who among other things announced the opening to free visits of the bell tower and theater of the basilica of San Prospero, and Lorena Belli manager of the Productive Activities service of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia.
IN THE SQUARES – The great Market returns without limitations, in the squares and streets of the historic center (corso Garibaldi, via San Carlo and the Fontanesi, Martiri del 7 luglio, della Vittoria, Prampolini and San Prospero squares), with some new features.
Piazza Fontanesi will welcome an extraordinary edition of the Farmer’s Market, enriched by some stalls dedicated to traditional festive food: fresh pasta, traditional balsamic vinegar,erbazzone, capons and pastries.
The voluntary associations together with the schools will be represented around the fountain in Piazza Martiri del 7 luglio: their presence has the aim of making citizens aware of the commitments and projects they carry out in favor of the community.
Piazza San Prospero, the heart of the patronal festival, will host the Apennine associations, which will offer a vast selection of autumn products: roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, honey, castagnaccio, hazelnuts, mushrooms, chestnut tortellini and many other delights.
The craftsmanship of Creare in Arte will animate, together with the stalls of the large open-air market, Piazza della Vittoria.
Traders’ temporary associations also return to occupy some streets in the historic centre: “ViaRomaViva” will set up a market along via Roma and the arcades of via Emilia San Pietro; the Association of Santo Stefano will celebrate the patron saint with the placement of stalls along the via Emilia, from the gate to piazza Gioberti.
SWITCHING ON OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE AND LIGHTS – On the occasion of San Prospero, the Christmas lights will be turned on, from 4.30 to 11.00 pm.
The roads involved are Via Emilia (from piazza Tricolore to piazza Duca d’Aosta), via Roma, via Calderini, via Guidelli, via Crispi, via Guido da Castello, corso Garibaldi (from the beginning to the end of the tree-lined stretch), via Farini , via Panciroli, via Guasco, via Toschi (from the crossroads with via Guidelli to piazza Prampolini), via Fornaciari and vicolo Trivelli.
A real preview of the lighting ceremony of the large Christmas tree in Piazza Prampolini, scheduled for Sunday 27 November from 4.30 pm, with the participation of the mayor Luca Vecchi and the councilor for commerce Mariafrancesca Sidoli. Their speech will be followed by the Gospel Show by Sherrita Duran.
It will be a concert of American Gospel music interpreted by the beautiful voice of Sherrita Duran accompanied by four other voices and the pianist. They will offer songs that touch the heart, as the Gospel commands, for a tribute to African-American sacred music, without neglecting the classic themes of the Christmas tradition, as well as the songs best known by young and old.
As for some years now, the tree in Piazza Prampolini is a real fir, in a pot, between 10 and 12 meters tall which, after the holidays, will return to the nursery. Around 20 small trees in the shape of half cones will be placed together with the fir along the entire perimeter of the square. Christmas is also linked to the rediscovery of finding each other and being together, for this reason a real luminous circle will be placed around the tree made up of children holding hands, to recall the theme of peace and brotherhood.
THE TASTE OF MEMORIES – The Civic Museums also participate in the San Prospero and the end-of-year celebrations. In fact, on Saturday 26 November, an itinerary for children and families will start offering the opportunity to experience the museum – in particular the Palazzo dei Musei – through workshops, thematic itineraries and storytelling, with a cycle of meetings which, through activities centered on using the senses, will explore the theme of winter.
Saturday 26 will be the first of five different workshops specially designed for the Christmas period: “The taste of memories”.
All workshops, aimed at children aged between 6 and 11, will take place from 4 to 5.30 pm, booking is recommended, subject to availability. Info: Civic Museums – Palace of Museums 0522.456816.
THE WAYS OF SOLIDARITY – For San Prospero there will be the opportunity to discover and support the many solidarity projects carried out by voluntary associations.
Many vacant shop windows in the historic center will light up on November 24 and will remain open until Epiphany, thanks to the presence of these realities that work continuously and tirelessly alongside the world of health.
In the large window of the former Zamboni shop, on the San Rocco block, the Croce Verde temporary store will open to raise funds to support public assistance activities.
The Grade foundation is back in via Crispi, with the sale of solidarity products and many new features. The proceeds will go to support the “Research or non-research” project which aims to introduce new therapies for the treatment of lymphomas through two national-level studies coordinated by Dr. Stefano Luminari, head of the simple structure of onco-haematological research in the complex structure of Hematology of Santa Maria Nuova, and by Dr. Francesco Merli, director of Hematology.
In via Emilia Santo Stefano, the Curare onlus association together with Progetto Pulcino onlus will reopen ‘The factory of the elves’, a Christmas temporary store whose proceeds will be donated to charity for the purchase of Neopuff for all the incubators of the neonatal intensive care unit of the ‘Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova and two Blenders. From 20 November, this temporary will be open every day until 31 December, while the inauguration ceremony will be on San Prospero’s day.
Also organized by Curare onlus and Progetto Pulcino, will be the Christmas Concert ‘Canto per il Mire’, which will take place on December 11, at 6.30 pm, in the church of San Pietro in the center, with the “Florestano” Youth Orchestra of the Higher Institute of Musical Studies of Reggio Emilia and Castelnuovo Monti “Peri-Merulo” directed by Gabrielangela Spaggiari, the Children’s Choir of the Peri-Merulo Institute directed by Daniela Veronesi and the CavriCanto Choir directed by Ilaria Cavalca.
Finally, in vicolo Trivelli, as has been the case for some years now, the Bottega del Natale is reopened by the Sant’Innocenti onlus association and, next to it, the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association with its Christmas temporary store.