Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/303

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The Dancing- Tower Pi^ocessions of Italy.


being plainly visible. Then it ceased suddenly, and the Ceri having completed their circuit of the town, precipitated on to the Piazza. At our first visit it rained heavily, the ecclesiastical benediction was dispensed with, and it was amid a forest of toadstools of every shade of dingy blue, brown and green (the umbrellas of the crowd) that the Ceri made their three rapid turns round the square. The men, now worked up into a perfect ecstasy of excite- ment, leant backward as they strained under the heavy burden, their flushed cheeks and shining eyes denoting their "god-possession," while shouts of " Evviva Sant' Ubaldo ! " rent the air. Then with a last wild whoop they rushed towards the city gate, at the foot of the steep path which ascends the Monte Ingino.

To pass the low arch the Ceri must be lowered to a nearly horizontal position, a difficult performance, during v.'hich accidents often happen to the saints. Profiting by this delay two of our party, clearing their way through the kindly sympathetic crowd, stormed the height and arrived at the convent on the summit, which is the final goal, before the first Cero had reached it ; the allotted time being usually twenty minutes. When Sant' Ubaldo and his followers had passed the convent gate it was closed behind them, for here the attendant saints are visitors only, and must wait their turn. Then within the courtyard, in sight of the shrine where the incor- ruptible body of the great bishop lies in state above the high altar, the Ceraioli of Sant' Ubaldo once more run their threefold course. The image of the saint is taken down from his pedestal ; the people eagerly throng round to kiss the rumpled garments of their revered patron ; and the Cero is stowed away until the following year. San Giorgio and Sant' Antonio, when admitted into the precincts repeat the same ceremony.

Then ensued a scene of uproarious rejoicing, health- drinking, handshaking ; and a regular ovation was