June 13th: religious rites and ancient traditions for celebrating a humble Saint

It is early morning, about 27.5°C, when, from the highway Lecce – Gallipoli – Santa Maria di Leuca (exit Galatone), I head to Seclì, a village in the South West of Apulia. Indeed, it is not too far from the Ionian coast.

The small ancient church, dedicated to S. Antonio, (one of the patron saints of the village), is on the right side, at the beginning of the main street, which leads to the center of the village. The church was built around the end of the 16th Century together with the ancient monastery, where friars belonging to the order of Friars Minor lived following the Franciscan Rule.

On June 13th, in the early morning, locals and even people on foot from the neighboroughood, get to the church for the celebration of the mass in honor of the humble saint, on small pilgrimages made of prayers and old singing.

A very suggestive moment in all the celebration is when local bakeries and common people offer and share “the holy bread of S. Antonio” with the community, as sign of deep devotion toward the saint and old ritual to express thanks at the reaping time, which happens again and again one year after an other.

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