Festival of San Nicola of Bari

Bari is preparing the May Festival: from 7th to 9th May this festival will color the city to pay homage to its Patron Saint, San Nicola.

For this occasion the Apulian city will host thousands of pilgrims from all over Italy and from abroad (from Russia in particular: the Russian Orthodox, in fact, consider San Nicola the most powerful intercessor with God), and the solemn religious celebrations and the civil and cultural events to take part in for living the intensity of San Nicola’s cult will numerous.

San Nicola’s cult in the world

The universality of San Nicola’s cult cannot be denied: evident proof of his immense popularity is the worldwide presence of his name, declinated in many variations, and of churches consecrated to him. Defined by authoritative sources one of the most revered saints both in the East and in the West, San Nicola is in fact an emblem of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestan world.

Furthermore he is known even outside the Christian world, because his figure has given rise to Santa Claus’s myth.

Brief history

Nicola (270 approximately – 343) was bishop of Myra (city of Byzantine Empire), and soon his cult spread all over the world.

His remains were preserved in Myra’s Cathedral until 1087. When Myra was conquered by Muslims, 62 Bari sailors went to the city for smuggling and taking possession of Saint’s bones: since that moment, thanks to their courage, Bari has become the guardian of a precise historical identity and also city bridge between East and West.

7th – 9th May 2018: San Nicola’s festival

There are four festivals that every year the city of Bari relives to celebrate its Patron: on 6th December (religious festival) and from 7th to 9th May (Translation of the relics), on 19th December and on 22nd May (according to the Julian calendar).

Something new for 2018: on Sunday 6th May, in view of the Hystorical Procession on 7th May, the Translation of Saint’s relics from Myra to Bari is remembered, performing the disembarkation of San Nicola’s bones at the homonymous pier: a procession consisting of over 500 costumed attendants parades through the streets of Bari Vecchia until San Michele’s Church, remembering, in this way, the delivering of Saint’s bones to the Abbot Elia.

Monday 7th May literally starts the dance of 2018 Edition of Historical Procession; for the first time, in fact, the Procession will be embellished by an air dance show that will narrate the three miracles: The Wheat, The Three Generals, The Three Young Girls. The parade – preceded by the procession with the large Saint’s Icon arrived by sea from San Giorgio Bay – recreates live the epic venture of the Bari sailors in 1087 and with the caravel passes through the streets of the city until Basilica of San Nicola.

The sea procession on 8th May is characteristic: during this event, after a suggestive pilgrimage among the alleys of Bari Vecchia, the sea immensity welcomes the Saint: a randomly selected trawler leads off the coast the San Nicola’s Statue, accompanied by a flotilla of colourfully festooned boats.

On 9th May, when the Translation of the relics is remembered, the solemn mass is celebrated, trusting in the “Manna” prodigy that would trickled from San Nicola’s bones.

The festivals of San Nicola are not just simple historical traditions to hand down from one generation to another, but they represent intense moments of faith and popular piety for the many faithful followers who, attracted by the charm of the Saint, of his history and popularity, of his miracles and charitable activity, crowd Bari, rediscovering cultural and religious roots in common.

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