The Epiphany

January 6

The Feast of the Epiphany was hands-down my favorite festival in Massa Marittima this year.  It marks the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem after tracking the celestial phenomenon leading them to their newborn king.  Since this visitation is celebrated 12 days after Christmas, you will notice that until January 6, all nativity scenes in Italy display the Three Kings en route to the manger, not yet surrounding the baby Jesus.  

In Massa Marittima, a procession through town illustrates the Wise Men's journey to Bethlehem in search of their savior.  The procession has several stops through town where performers depict various exotic aspects of King Herod's ancient Roman kingdom.

Ancient Roman loungers show off their leisurely privileges in Massa Marittima's 14th century Chiostro di San Agostino.

Ancient Roman soldiers and senators flanked by drummers

Local school children prepare for the procession dressed as shepherds and angels

The Wise Men were dressed in exotic robes and proceeded through town on horseback.

An ancient market place on display

The procession is led into the main piazza by the town's guard (the official clarion and drum team of the City of Massa Marittima)

One last fire show before the group shot on the steps of the Cathedral of San Cerbone

The procession was followed by a mass in the Cathedral of San Cerbone celebrated by the Bishop--Massa Marittima is the seat of the diocese.  Special feast day celebrations like this usually entail beautiful choral accompaniments.  For the Feast of the Epiphany mass, the chorus employed ancient harmonies giving the mass a solemn and ethereal air.  This made for an elegant and extensive cultural experience!

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