St. Vito: Legend, history and tradition


“If you put together all the relics attributed to St. Vito, you would form three bodies!” Cristoforo Milone says, author of a life of San Vito. More ironically, Don Giuseppe Regine, Parish priest of San Vito in Forio since 26/10/1969, says “we’ll be looking at a dinosaur!”. All this testifies the prevalence, in Italy and abroad, - should not be forgotten, in fact, that the “remains” of the saint are preserved in the Cathedral of Prague – of the cult of the young martyred in 303, during the persecutions of Diocletian.

The veneration of St. Vito, has its origins in Forio and in the Middle Ages there was a temple in some region of Citara which was then transferred, for good measure because of the Saracen invasions and as a result of frequent earthquakes the island was subjected , in the elevated position of the “House of Forio”.
The cultivation of the vine and its important role in the forian economy are the basis of the legend that, in the middle of the nineteenth century, while raged the terrible late blight on the island and Forian people bleeding for shortages of harvests, a Sicilian ship, load of sulphur arrived in Forio. The Sicilians claimed to have been sent it to Forio with the task of distributing the sulphur and curing screws, by a child that had pawned a ring. The imagination of the people identified in that child Our San Vito. It is certain that the benefits of the “cure” could be seen immediately.
Even the celebrations in honour of the Saint age, have old roots and, in fact, it seems that the first procession through the streets of the town, which has no memory, goes back to distant 1664. On that occasion it is certain that it was determined that the path of the sacred procession would be held in alternate years, for different roads. One year it would pass through San Giovanni and the next through Casa Di Maio. Yet the tradition is respected and this year will be San Giovanni to see the statue parade followed by the faithful.
Until 1959, the St. Vito celebration, purely religious, was made in the first or second week of August. The main feature was that all statues of the saints of Forio were brought in procession to the church of San Vito on Saturday. From the various parishes of the country, therefore, departed on Saturday processions with statues of St. Luigi from Soccorso, San Gaetano with the homonymous church, of San Michele from Monterone, San Francesco and San Sebastiano from their headquarters. On Sunday, however, took place the main procession with the statue of San Vito, followed by those of all other saints, for the streets.
On Monday the processions of return were held and the statue of San Vito was placed in its niche. The festive fireworks marked the day of Sunday, the arrival of the procession to the port.
The statues of San Vito in Forio are actually two: a wooden one of the sixteenth century, located in the alcove to the left side of the altar and another a silver one, which is kept in the sacristy, locked up, after several attempts of theft.
This statue, designed by sculptor Giuseppe Sammartino and produced by the goldsmiths Gennaro and Giuseppe Del Giudice, arrived in Forio on 21/3/1787.
The curious new is that the Mayor at that time in order to raise funds for the construction of the statue, imposed a tax on every jug of wine sold in the taverns of the village. Some gossip coined the saying that says that the statue was made by drunkards!
From 1960 to 1965 the celebration was suspended for the renovation of the church of San Vito and was resumed only in 1966. On that occasion the date changed and was fixed at 15/6 each year.
Since 1968 the festivities as well as religious, put on the characteristic of “village festival” with stalls, music, shows, merry-go-round and entertainment shows as still happens.
Life of the party is the organizing committee, which has seen, over time, working celebrities of Forio, as, for example, to name a few, Francesco D’Ascia aka “Piere pierillo”: Francesco Capuano, Antimo Sacco, Aniello Ambrosio, Vito Manna, Bartolo Impagliazzo.
Today, the Committee counts on Emilio Amalfitano, Vito Amalfitano, Ottavio Castellaccio, Vittorio Coppa, Giuseppe Di Maio, Vito Elia.

This year the festival will be held on June 13 to 17 and will comprise the following stages:

Friday June 8: 19.00: enthronement of the silver statue of the patron;
19.30: Solemn Mass.
Saturday June 9 : Ss. Masses at 7 and 10;
19.00: S. Mass, Exposure of the SS. Sacramento, private adoration and confessions;
22.00: singing of Vespers and Benediction.
Sunday June 10 – Solemnity of Corpus Christi Ss. Masses at 7, 9.30 and 11;
19.00: Mass and a Eucharistic procession through the city streets. In return, the solemn Benediction.
Monday June 11: Ss. Masses at 7, 10 and 19.00 with the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation;
at 20.30: The Diocese of Ischia welcomes the summer session II of the "Festival of the life of Caserta" - Conference "La gioia".
di vivere" given by Fr Francisco Elizalde, L.C. - Director General "Village of the boys - Don Salvatore
d’Angelo” – Maddaloni (CE).
Tuesday June 12 : Ss. Messe at 7, 10 and 19.00;
21.30: celebration of Vespers in the Basilica and torchlight procession to the shrine in the sixteenth anniversary of Cierco
coronation of Our Lady of Libera.
Wednesday, June 13:Ss. Masses at 7 and 10;
19.00: S. Mass with a community celebration of the sacrament of anointing of the sick;
at 21.15: in p.zza Municipio, opening night of the fourth edition of the festival "Palma argento di San Vito".
Direction by Gaetano Maschio.
Thursday, June 14: Ss. Masses at 7, 10 (with comunioni) and 19.00with the singing of Vespers of the Blessed. Heart of Jesus and solemn benediction;
at 21.15: in p.zza Municipio,end of the song contest "Palma d'argento St. Vito", announcement of winners and
national awards "Song to Life" and "Song to Peace".
Friday June 15 – Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
From 6 am Holy Mass in continuation;
at 09.00: diana by the company "Fratelli Romano" Angri (SA);
at 09.30: around the city streets of banda music "~ Pope John XXIII for Music Together - City of Forio";
at 11.00: Solemn Pontifical Bishop Filippo Strofaldi; Ss. Masses at 17 and 18;
at 18.30: great procession to the port, the show of fireworks by the company "Fratelli Romano", the return, S. Messa;
at 22.30: in p.zza Municipio, the “Gaudium association et Spes” presents “Il meglio di Miseria e nobiltà”.
Saturday June 16 – Liturgical Solemnity of Saint ANMI; returning, S. Mass;
at 21.30: in p.zza Municipio, lyric-symphonic music of the banda "Pope John XXIII ~ Together for Music - City of Forio," directed by M. Claudio Matarese;
Sunday June 17 : Ss. Masses at 7, 8, 9.30 and 11;
at 19.00: Solemn Mass, and kiss the relics of the silver statue of Patron;
at 21.30: in p.zza Municipio, closing show offered by the Campania Region;
at 24.30: fireworks by the company "Ischia Pirica" by Brigida Scotti (Serrara Fontana).

From June 13 to 17, in the cloister of City Hall, iconographic exhibition on the cult of San Vito in Italy and Europe.
Break the Word of God the Father Erasmo Sebastiano, CP Sacred music will be entrusted to the "Choral Poly San Vito M.". The decorations
in Basilicathe will be "Capasso" Frattamaggiore (NA), the illuminations of the company "Luminart" Ltd. Naples and the amplification and
lighting of the companyTechnic@lservice” by Cinzia Razzano & C. in Casamicciola Terme. The processions will
accompany by marching bands "of Forio City" and "City of Ischia".

The feast of St. Vitus is a feast of deep-rooted devotion in the heart of Forian people! It is a sign of history, culture and traditions of an entire people! It is a treasure that must be defended and preserved.

See all photos of San Vito in Forio

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