The procession of the Mysteries of Campobasso

Conference and events

Museum: Polo Museale del Molise  website
Years: 2018

Polo Museale del Molise


Molise’s  intangible cultural heritage is rich of arts and traditions, music and dance and their origins date back to many centuries ago. The Museums of the Costumes of Molise in Isernia, the Museum of Italian and International Bagpipes in Scapoli, the Museum of Wheat in Jelsi,  the Museum of the Mysteries in Campobasso,  the Museum of Old Arts and Traditions  in Riccia and  Macchia Valfortore, the Museum of rural Artefact in Lucito and many more are just some of the museums  which represent and preserve costumes and traditions of rural life in Molise. Polo museale del Molise,  a regional office of the General Directorate of Museums will coordinate the development and accessibility to museums belonging to local authorities, many of which represent the traditions and customs of the local communities of Molise. 

Through the work conducted by the Regional Secretariat for Molise, Polo Museale and Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio del Molise, the intangible cultural heritage is involved in the appreciation activities of our museums. 

The procession of the Mysteries of Campobasso

Description of the project / practice / program


Molise’s  intangible cultural heritage is rich of arts and traditions, music and dance and their origins date back to many centuries ago. The Museums of the Costumes of Molise in Isernia, the Museum of Italian and International Bagpipes in Scapoli, the Museum of Wheat in Jelsi,  the Museum of the Mysteries in Campobasso,  the Museum of Old Arts and Traditions  in Riccia and  Macchia Valfortore, the Museum of rural Artefact in Lucito and many more are just some of the museums  which represent and preserve costumes and traditions of rural life in Molise.

From the seventeenth century the characters were put on strechers and carried on the shoulder during the procession organised on the day of the Corpus Domini. They would represent sacred scenes  from the old and new testament. Later on, the sculptor Paolo Saverio Di Zinno was commissioned to design twenty-four machines to carry the characters. These machines consists of a wooden platform in which an iron structure is inserted. They branch out vertically and have special seats and straps  to hold the characters. After more than two hundred and fifty years the same machines are still used to celebrate the Mysteries. The earthquake of 1805, war events and  difficult repairs have reduced the number of machines to twelve. The thirteenth mystery (machine) was made in 1959 based on the original design by Di Zinno.

The Museum of the Mysteries was founded in 2006 to exhibit the thirteen machines and make them accessible to visitors. At the same time it intends to preserve them. In addition to the machines, the Museum also shows photographs, videos, posters and period costumes. The machines were first shown in 1748. 

The history behind this tradition and the active participation of the community make the Mysteries one of the most important traditions of Molise. Its Museum contributes to spread the  knowledge and help scientific research related to it also through the digitalization of documents and other related material. Through the work conducted by the Regional Secretariat for Molise, Polo Museale and Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio del Molise, it might be possible to include the celebration of the Mysteries in the register of the celebrations which use large shoulder-mounted machines, considered UNESCO intangible cultural heritag

How were practitioners of intangible cultural heritage involved?


The whole community participates in the procession of the Mysteries of Campobasso, either directly, taking part in the preparation of the machines and parading with them, or indirectly just as an observer.

Today, the procession of the Mysteries is organized by the Municipal Administration of Campobasso which, since 1997, is supported by the Mysteries and Traditions Association. The Association also runs the Museum of the Mysteries. On the morning of the day of the “Corpus Domini’, seventy-five ‘actors’ playing characters from the Old and New Testament get-together with over two hundred carriers and numerous musicians to get ready to start. Among the participants there are fifty-five children  as well.

On the day of the Mysteries, the city of Campobasso attracts thousands of visitors who come from all over the region and beyond. The tradition belongs to the intangible heritage of Molise and intends to preserve and promote its cultural heritage.

The Museum of the Mysteries was inaugurated in 2006. It preserves the processional machines created by the artist Paolo Saverio di Zinno in the middle of the 1700s and which are still used to carry the characters of the processions. The Museum of the Mysteries Is regularly opened to the public to spread and promote the tradition and the intangible heritage of Campobasso.  The Museum also exhibits photographs, footages of the preparation and development of the "Procession of the Mysteries" filmed in 1929, 1948, 1952, 1958, 1999 and 2006, period costumes and catalogues with all the names of the actors of the last forty years.

© Credits cover photo: The processional machine of Saint Nicola, 2005 - Donato D.Alessandro collection

CV of the author


Federico Bonfanti was born in Legnago (Verona, Italy) in 1980. In 2004 he obtained a master’s degree in History with a historical-archaeological thesis. In 2009 he specialized in Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology. Since 2011, together with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Venetoand the University of Padua, he was curator of various exhibitions of archaeological and ethnographic nature. Collaborator of Archaeological and Municipal Museum Complex in Legnago (Verona) since 2004, Bonfanti been appointed Conservator since 2009. In 2013 he obtained a Master's degree in Museology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano. Since 2018 he has been appointed as archaeologist, functionary at Polo Museale del Molise.

LESSONS LEARNT

  • The importance of a museum that is regularly open to preserve the memory and the traditions  of its community to promote them and share them with the public, also using new technologies and a process of digitalisation 
  • The need to plan  regular maintenance interventions for the conservation of the machines used during the procession, in order to guarantee its regular use and therefore keep the tradition
  • Importance of the involvement of the entire community in  organizing the procession every year to pass down this tradition to young generations.

LINKS

www.musei.molise.beniculturali.it


 

Practical


When

25 February 2019 from 11:19 to 11:19

Where

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Program


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