The Madonna of the train of Moiano: a procession with the tongue on the ground

by Davide Agnocchetti

An ancient ritual, anomalous and deeply humiliated in front of the divine figure. In Moiano “la Madonna of the train”Takes on its most literal meaning: the final moment of the procession in honor of Mary took place literally advancing with tongues on the ground.

madonna dello strascino moiano
The Holy Mary of the Libera, protagonist of the Madonna of the Moiano train

Too heavy a statue, a queen's ceremony

It all begins around the fourteenth century, when it was this statue of a black Madonna was taken by the Saracens, with his austere and serene gaze. The problem is that it was too heavy. And therefore it was never taken out of the Benevento.

The brown Madonna became like this, starting from 16th century, a characteristic presence of the country of Moiano and, since 1514, the festival follows a codified and fixed procedure that has remained the same today.

On August 15, in fact, the festivities begin: in the main street of Moiano, around the entire city in celebration, the "flag", which is the image of the Madonna, is raised. Then, on September 7, the statue of the brunette Madonna is dressed with ex voto and very elegant drapes. “She is beautiful as a queen“, They say in the village.

The maximum moment of the party is theSeptember 8, with a procession that begins at 9 in the morning and ends at 9 in the evening. The faithful, who have won a dispute over who will carry the statue on their shoulders and enjoy its protection, gather in the churchyard. From there, until sunset, the statue will travel through the streets of Moiano, accompanied by wings of a cheering crowd. Then, at the end of the tour, we return to the church and proceed to the deeper act of devotion: the return of the statue to the altar is accompanied by following it with the tongues on the ground: a touching moment seasoned with ancient songs.

The Madonna dello Strascino: a contact with the underworld

Amerigo and Marcello Ciervo, historians and researchers of local traditions, explain that this ritual has a strongly symbolic value: touching the ground with the tongue it is in fact a moment in which man, concretely, touch the underworld, the lowest point of one's existence. In this way, getting up at the end of the procession, the individual can feel "forgiven" and reconciled with the spiritual world. It is a very touching and intense ritual, which is also found a few kilometers away: a Ripacandia, in the Potentino, there is in fact a ritualistic very similar to the Madonna of the train of Moiano.

-Davide Agnocchetti


Franco Salerno, Life, party, death, Altrastampa editions, Naples, 2003
Amerigo and Marcello Ciervo, Musicalia: Moiano. The memory of the village.

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