San Giovan Giuseppe della Croce island patron saint


Patron Saint of the whole island but above all an islander, St Giovan Giuseppe of the Cross is the Protector of the island communities, a figure so loved as to have devotees around the whole world, Ischians who for various reasons have had to leave their beloved green island, yet maintain alive their ties with their island of origin.

There are many episodes, set in distant and recent times, in which St Giovan Giuseppe is the main figure, once dressed as a curator, then as an attentive guardian and yet again as a friend or a benevolent brother assisting those in need.

In the interior of the Aragonese Castle, the symbol of the island of Ischia, a chapel has been dedicated to the Saint, well cared for and a pleasure to behold , the chapel contains a precious painting of the monk and other sacred objects. Every year on 5th March, a group of ever more numerous faithful, together with a few curious onlookers arrive at the chapel positioned on the footpath to the Aragonese Castle, to take part in a mass on rare excellence held early afternoon between the historic and powerful walls of the Castle.

However it is at the end of August and the beginning of September that the greatest and most sumptuous festival with breathtakingly beautiful illuminations and decorations takes place.

From 30th August to 3rd September, in fact traditional and unique events alternate making this festival the favourite of the islanders and those many tourists who fall in love with it at first sight.

In the past as in the present, the village of Ischia Ponte comes to life, dyeing itself thousands of colours from the hundreds of light bulbs which create reflections and patterns on the facades of the historical buildings of the village.

Just to set foot in the village is enough to become literally invested in the spirit of the festival.

The illuminations cleverly positioned along the streets which lead until below the Aragonese Castle, form an interlaced design unique to its type, new from edition to edition, suggesting an ideal way to live the festival to the full.

Dotted here and there along the streets are traditional stalls, displaying their wares in unconventional ways, full of colourful inventiveness, long stands grouping together the same type of product.

Everything can be found, from traditional toys to gastronomy typical of the local festivals.

In fact the perfume of the festival of St Giovan Giuseppe of the Cross is unique, it is a mixed fragrance made up of toasted peanuts, candy floss, lupines and pumpkin seeds. Then there are inevitably various types of nougat to buy, also as gifts to take home.

All the towns of the island are involved in the festival, and in fact various musical bands of the island alternate in processions and concerts along the streets, exhibitions which are followed by very many passionate music lovers applauding in time to the more famous melodies.

The most moving moments of the festival are obviously those tied to the liturgies and the characteristic processions which every year are followed by larger numbers of people.. There are two processions which characterize this festival, one proceeds along the streets of the town of Ischia and returns to the church at Ischia Ponte, while the second has two particular aspects, it begins with a procession by sea and finishes on land. The procession, with the following musical band once arrived at the wharf beneath the Aragonese Castle embarks on a historical fishing boat, as tradition requires, and sails towards the Castle. Once arrived there it reverses its course and sails towards Ischia Port followed by another boat carrying the Madonna of Costantinopoli and a cloud of boats of all shapes and sizes carrying the faithful who accompany the saint to the landing. Intervals of firework displays support the route until arrival at the stretch of water of the Port. The procession arrives at dusk and touches land again to return to the village of Ischia Ponte crossing the whole town. Homes situated along the route which the procession traditionally follows, decorate their balconies with colourful and precious tapestries in sign of respect and devotion.

The long lengthy procession arrives again at Ischia Ponte and performs the most emotional passage of all, the two saints return to their respective churches, St Giovan Giuseppe of the Cross waits until the Madonna of Costantinopoli enters her Church, bowing in salute, to then perform the same ritual to return to his church accompanied by applause and music.

The relics can be visited every day of the year in the Church of St. Anthony situated at the beginning of Ischia Ponte.

This is a festival amongst the most antique and touching on the whole island, it has the power to enchant and emotionally tie to the island forever.

by Maria Funiciello

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029


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