Misteri of Campobasso

Our City, the city of mysteries…

Everything is ready in town to celebrate tradition in the town of mysteries… but what is so mysterious about it?

To find it out, you just need to visit Campobasso on the Sunday of Corpus Domini, which this year will be on 23rd June. On this occasion, since 1748, the streets of Campobasso are animated by a unique and evocative show: the parade of “Misteri” (mysteries).

The term “Mysteries” identifies the medieval sacred representations performed on religious solemnities. They were created to satisfy, on the one hand, the need of the people to identify the human aspect in religion, on the other, the will of the Church to educate people. These outdoor representations, at that time, were combined with sculpture and painting inside the churches. The phenomenon developed throughout Europe, with different names but with similar content in different countries: mystery play in England, mystére in France, auto sacramental in Spain, passionspiele in Germany.

The first attestations of the Mysteries in Campobasso date back to 1688, with the celebrations of the Corpus Domini, operated by the fraternities of the Most Holy Trinity and St Mary of the Cross, that brought the pallium (liturgical vestment) in a procession towards the Church of St Leonard. In 1740, the two fraternities commissioned Paolo Saverio Di Zinno, to create some structures for these celebrations. In his project, thanks to the metal supports set on wooden beams, Di Zinno had the aim of creating living statues, which depicted different religious scenes.

The children, who represent angels, devils, saints and virgins, seem to be suspended thanks to hidden harnesses. More than 200 people carry these structures and support the weight of each Mystery on their shoulders. The Mysteries appear in this order: St Isidore, St Crispian, St Januarius, Abraham, Mary Magdalene, St Anthony, the Immaculate Conception, St Leonard, St Roch, the Assumption, St Michael, St Nicholas, and the Sacred Heart.

The Mystery of St Anthony shows the scene of the damsel and the devil, who keeps saying to her: “Tunzella Tunzella, vietenn, vietenn!” (“Damsel, Damsel, come, come!”). This scene became symbol itself of the parade.

We want to thank the photograoher Lello Muzio for his evocative black and white shots of angels and Mysteries. Until the 5th July, at the GIL building in Campobasso, it will be possible to visit his exhibition “Angels”.