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Milan | 2019

Church of S. Maria degli Angeli


curated by Silvia Fontana and Giorgia Boscolo Sassariolo

A church, a journey back in time, two women and a sacred ritual.


In ancient Rome, between 13 and 15 August, the Nemoralia was celebrated, a holiday in honor of the goddess Diana, also called the Torch Festival. During this festival the protection of the goddess of hunting and of the woods was invoked with dances and songs, hunting dogs were adorned with garlands and flowers, offerings were prepared as messages engraved on bows and tied to altars and trees, clay tablets or statuettes of bread representing sick parts of the body as a request for healing and many other gifts. In those days it was forbidden to hunt or kill any animal. The protection of the Goddess was invoked and poured out on everything, not just on humans. Over time, Christianity has adopted and made its own not only the dates of this holiday which coincide with the Assumption of Mary, but also the use of some symbolisms including votive tablets, the use of prayers and dances .

The idea of the Grand Rite of the Chain is therefore to build a ritual in which there is a passage, an exchange, a mixture of Christian and pagan elements, starting from the Marian figure to go back in time to search for its origin. deeper. To do this we will take inspiration from a traditional Wiccan ritual and a traditional Sicilian ritual. In the past, August 15th was a day entirely dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, to whom special devotional practices no longer in use were addressed, including the recitation Di li Centu Cruci, a devotion that, if done even only once in a lifetime, had the virtue of protecting the person praying from the tempting devil on the point of death. On this day, therefore, in the alleys of the Sicilian villages, we saw small groups of women sitting in a circle, with the rosary in hand. One of them, generally the oldest, commanded the recitation of the prayer and attracted the attention of those present.

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