With the first Sunday of July the series of celebrations in preparation for the feast of the next 26 began with the most solemn rite of festive masses, dedicated to Sant’Anna who in particular is the patron saint of the city of Caserta, together with Saint Sebastian who is celebrated on January 20. The people of Caserta, to tell the truth, for the mother of Mary and therefore the grandmother of Jesus, have always had a particular veneration, a family relationship that is concretized in the nickname the “Vecchierella” attributed to that statue that represents the beautiful old age of the Saint, the tenderness with which she carries the Madonna-child by the hand but already with the queen’s crown for that maternity to which God had predestined her.
After two years of suspension of the celebrations, the most crowded liturgical ceremonies and traditional secular celebrations return this year in a program full of events on which the utmost attention is focused and the preparation of prevention measures given the heavy return of the contagion from Covid. Eyes focused in particular on the processions, the most heartfelt moment.
“The population of the faithful awaits the anniversary with particular intensity of sentiments, he says Don Andrea Campanile, parish priest and rector of the Sanctuary, the most frequented appointments of the dawn masses of 26 and 31 July, of the two processions with the statue carried on the shoulders by the faithful in almost the whole city, in the two fractions in the morning and afternoon-evening. These are the most intense moments of the meeting between the faithful and the Patron Saint but from the first day of the month the preparation for moments that must be of great spirituality lasts ».
Every year a characterizing inspirational reason: which one this year? “That of spending oneself on the culture of life says Don Andrea. Unfortunately, we live immersed in what Pope Francis has called the throwaway culture ‘, that mentality which, while making the weakest and strangers feel different from their fragility, authorizes us to imagine separate paths between us and them. Instead we must proceed together, in solidarity, the first with the last, the authorities with the administered, all to cancel the weaknesses. We leave nothing to chance, the city of Caserta needs all of us ». On the 26th, the first mass will be celebrated at 6 am inside the sanctuary by Don Andrea, every hour until 5 pm by various priests, in particular at 10 with the blessing of pregnant women with mass officiated by Don Giovanni Gionti, former rector and today confessor of the sanctuary.
At 7.30 pm the solemn mass will be presided over by bishop Pietro Lagnese. The bishop himself will celebrate the closing mass at 6 am on 31 July in the square in front of the sanctuary. The Sunday of the last Sunday of the month is the Sunday reserved for the two processions, the first will start from Piazza Sant’Anna after the 6 o’clock mass, will touch the northern part of the city arriving at the hospital in via Tescione for the meeting with the sick, moment that is renewed after two years with the foreseeable emotion. In the afternoon the second fraction will leave at 6 pm to end, after crossing the streets of the urban center, with the return of the statue to the sanctuary. For the older faithful an important stage is represented by the stop in Viella Salomone, a crumb of a narrow street, a crossroads of Via Ferrante almost opposite the church of Saint Helena.
Here a votive altar recalls the “Casa di Sant’Anna”, a tiny Terran apartment inhabited since the early 1800s by the Costa sisters, two unmarried couples who for decades kept the statue of Sant’Anna in a niche of their house, which is venerated today. in the sanctuary. In their home the two sisters gave catechism lessons to the children of the Santella district, in 1836 one of the two sisters died of cholera and was buried in the adjacent cholera cemetery. to the small church of Santa Maria di Macerata which meets at the gates of the city, in the San Clemente area, overlooking the edge of the Appia state road.
From the gate you can see an iron cross to indicate the common burials, a few meters away from the games of a children’s park. The statue of the Patroness survived the bombings of 23 August 1943 which destroyed a large part of the church of Loreto where the statue was venerated.