A Gluoria (The Resurrection)
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  Versione Italiana



(for the studying and spreading of Andreolese culture)


During the period of Lent, the good people of S.Andrea observed the laws of the Church faithfully. During the harsh periods of that era, when staples were meagre, they obeyed the mandates of their religion with tenacity. The older people (l'antichi) could be counted on reproach by chanting:

 Corajisima, Corajisima cuaddhu stuartu ondassasti cavulu all'uartu, ondassasti erva ari timpuni, Corajisima pizzicuni’. (Lent, lent, with your crooked neck/ there is no more cabbage in the garden/ there are no more edible weeds in the hills/ Lent, you scoundrel you)

 Fasting and abstinence from meat were the order of the day. It was customary at the time to hang a dummy from the window (scarecrow looking) with 40 feathers around his body. Each day a feather would be removed to signify one less day left of penance. The last one I remember was hanging from the window of Nicola Maria Voci. That was the last one to be seen. The custom faded away into oblivion after that. The Church looked desolate and wrapped in sorrow. With all statues wrapped in purple and the bells silent in mourning, only the sound of the tirriti’ and the tocca could be heard during all religious ceremonies. The Sepulchre, laid in the centre of the church nave, was a testimony to the spiritual anguish of the faithful. It was customary to sow wheat in clay pots and grow it in total darkness to prevent the occurrence of photosynthesis. The stalks would be white, devoid of chlorophyll, and would surround the Sepulchre. Did the absence of chlorophyll signify "Death”? I do not know. It was done that way.

During this period of mourning, much was being done to prepare the Church for the events that were to follow. Nicola Maria Voci (‘u Paraturi) would begin work on his paratu (display) by spanning frames across the vault of the nave. On those frames he would hang the drapes in a cascading fashion as to give brightness and add a sense of beauty to the surroundings. Nicola accomplished all that with the assistance of some of his sons. They would walk along the ledges high up on the ceiling of the church nave, hanging the drapes in alternate colors, creating a harmony of vivid beauty. The Saints and Madonnas housed in the Church must have liked his creations. All the years that he went about making parati they protected him from falls, which would have been fatal.

As Nicola was going about his paratu, members of the Congrega del Rosario were busy building the apparatus that would propel upwards the statue of the Christ on Easter Day. The device consisted of a platform and a vertical shaft on which the platform would ride up and down carrying the Christ that was secured on the platform. Another platform, built at a higher level, would sustain a boulder secured by a rope tied to the lower platform. When dropped, the boulder would cause the Christ to rise at the proper speed and explode through the simulated Tomb high above the Altare Maggiore. Attention was paid to every little detail to assure a successful Resurrection.

The celebration of Easter would begin Saturday before dawn. The first phase was the lighting of the holy fire with sparks created by striking two flint stones together. The task was assigned to a member of the Colinu family, either ‘Cola ‘e Colinu or Cianzu ‘e Colinu.I tend to think that it was Cianzu who was more apt to go near a church than ‘Cola. The people would bring branches and other pieces of wood for the occasion and take the embers home when the celebration was over. High Mass would commence shortly thereafter with the blessing of the water which would be used throughout the year for baptismals and in the holy water receptacles conveniently located at the entrance of the Church for the faithful to make the sign of the cross. Although only three priests took active participation in the actual celebration of the Mass, all available priests were present, wearing white vestments. I can describe to you the events that took place during Mass, but not necessarily in its proper sequence. At one point the priests present would lie in a prone position in front of the Altar as they do when ordained by the Bishop. The significance of such ritual escapes me. Perhaps someone else can fill in the meaning. On the main pulpit of the Church, the one from which the Panagirico was usually made, Don Bruno Voci, the brother of Nicola Maria Voci, whose voice had an operatic quality to it, would intone the Order of the new Religious year (cantava i caliandi).

An unblemished white Lamb would be brought in a chest (‘a sporta) by a woman and set at the side of the Altare Maggiore.It was the Pascal Lamb and an offering to God by Vincenzo Varano‘u gucciari (the butcher). What happened to the Lamb after the festivities were over I do not know. I do remember that children would seek the Lamb and pet it with enthusiasm. In their innocence (mine too, when I was a child) they believed that they were touching the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World. The next event was the washing of the feet of the Apostles. Twelve men were selected for this ritual. In 1945, members of the cast that participated in the performance of the "Pigghiata," were chosen to participate in the ceremony. I, as S.John in the Pigghiata, was among the selected. An honor, which I cherish to this day. The Archpriest would wash our feet and regale us with a focaccia (cucceddhata). The gift of eternal Life.

It was after this ceremony that things would begin to hum inside the Church. Excitement pervaded in the air in anticipation of what was to follow. An Angel of God, hidden among the drapes that Nicola Maria had hung, would slowly make his appearance as if descending from on High. As Mass continued, the Angel would approach the simulated tomb and stand at its side. Excitement, electricity, anticipation were all emotions present in each and everyone. Mass itself became marginal, as all eyes were focused on the Angel. All present, and the church was indeed full, knew what to expect!!! At various intervals the Angel would knock on the Tomb, almost to say” Wake up! Time has arrived for you to fulfil the prophecy. When the Archpriest would intone” GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO" the Angel would knock for the third time. Behind the Altar, the boulder would be dropped and the Christ would explode through the tomb announcing to the world his resurrection from the dead. A GLUARIA was brought to a successful completion!! At that moment in the ceremony, Vito Varano, Antonio Varano, Bruno Sama', Andrea ‘e Minghi would play their drums while Ndria ‘e Nchianimi would bang away at his crancascia. Not to be outdone by the drummers, Pietro ‘u Pulici, Pana Piarzu and ‘Cola ‘e Tornau, would play their bagpipes accompanied by a man (don't recall his name) who played a pipitula. Simultaneously, Franciscu ‘u Segrastanu would ring the Church bells, as children scampered to the altars located in the Apses to ring the bells, which were attached on the side of each Altar. The silence and gloom of lent was over, excitement was in everyone. Celebration was everywhere, it was time to go home and feast on frittuli e ova (cotechinos, a kind of spiced sausage for boiling and eggs).

Tomorrow will be a new day. A day when Mary receives word that her Son has risen. She will set out to search for Him wandering the narrow cobbled streets of S.Andrea, standard bearing Angels informing Her of His whereabouts. In time, as she approaches the vicinity of the Iannone Palace, she will spot him by the old Pharmacy of Andrea Sama'. They both run towards each other, as only Mother and Son would, and meet in what is known as ‘A CUMPRUNTA. It is my understanding that the Cumprunta is still part of the Andreolese culture and performed every year. I am sure it is exciting, but is it the same? My childhood memory does not allow me to think so. Can anyone really replace Vito Varano being chased by the standard bearing ANGIALIADDHI? I doubt it very much, as he displayed a flair and flamboyance unparalleled. To all the beautiful people of S.Andrea, to all its descendants wherever they may be, it was my desire not to bore you. If I did, forgive me. To Anna, my faithful collaborator and translator, you have been the wind beneath my wings. How can I thank you! These articles would not have been possible without your help and constant encouragement. To Francesco Romeo and Alfredo Varano, the stalwarts responsible for the Web I offer my gratitude and appreciation. May God bless you one and all.

Angelo IorfidaCanton, Ohio USA March 16 2002




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