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Through the silence of the night, during that peaceful moment right before dawn, from the ancient Chiesa di Santo Stefano (Church of Saint Stephen), the five Mysteries oscillate slowly over the shoulders of its members under a starry sky.
The town’s band performs poignant funeral marches and rhythmically accompanies the release of the simulacra. It is the night between Thursday and Holy Friday and Molfetta is experiencing one of the most charming events of the year. Until a few hours before, the raucous crowd had animated the city during a visit to the Tombs: repositories to venerate the body of Christ in every church. Tradition requires us to visit these altars in odd numbers.
The evening ended with the usual “u’pezzariedde”, a sandwich filed with tuna, capers and anchovies that is eaten on the street; a fast and tasty dish to help us last through the night. For the occasion, banquets to prepare this delicacy from Molfetta were set up in every street.
Now, however, the moment is solemn and a participant and silent crowd accompanies the sixteenth-century statues in a procession that unwinds from the historical center to other areas of the city. The members, with their candles lit and while praying, proceed in unison. The porters’ rocking motion rhythmically follows the beat of the drums and the brass instruments accentuate a sense of loss and grief before an Easter full of joy.
The Holy Week is coming to an end and the most beautiful traditions, on which the sense of life of Molfetta is based, are held over these few days.
Easter is more important than Christmas and it is a reality that can be touched and lived in this city over these few days. The moods, priorities and sweets in the windows of the bakeries change. Room is made for the “scarcèdde” (scarcella), a simple sweet made with eggs, sugar and flour and the sweetness of plum or grape jam.
The passionate spirit of the people of Molfetta has come to life since Good Friday, with the procession of the Suffering Mary, the Virgin that desperately runs through the streets of the city in search of that Son that is destined to die on the Cross.
Giulio Cozzoli signs the third version of the statue, the most poignant one with red eyes that are turned to the sky and a knife in its chest; a symbol of undying pain. The last appointment of the processions is Holy Saturday, in the morning, when the longest procession of the city leaves from the Chiesa del Purgatorio (Church of the Purgatory).
The Mercy group closes the procession of the seven papier-mâché statues that were also made by the sculptor from Molfetta, Giulio Cozzoli. Behind it, and behind the members and canopy, you can also follow the band to listen to some of the most beautiful compositions of renowned authors such as Verdi, Rossini, Chopin and many other musicians from Molfetta.
Amongst the most famous funeral marches, there is the “U Conzasiegge” of Vicenzo Valente, “Fatalità” of Saverio Calò and “Patetica” of Francesco Peruzzi. It’s a good opportunity to visit some of the city’s ravines that are not usually part of the standard tourist itineraries.
At night, we return to the Chiesa del Purgatorio (Church of the Purgatory), where a big crowd awaits the final event of the week. All the lights are turned off and the Mercy group is the first one to enter with the other simulacra that expressively observe it from its sides, as if it were a Sacred Conversation.
The bells of the many churches of the city call the members for the Night before Easter. Easter day and Easter Monday have been the most festive days for a long time.
With the coming of spring, even the joyful minds penetrate a sunny Sunday morning. The Corso Umberto I street is the preferred destination of these walks. Along the lava stone tiles of this road, people exchange greetings and handshakes.
The typical dishes of this day are full of seafood, meat sauces and sweets. Monday is even more beautiful, when Molfetta moves towards the countryside to get in contact with nature for a sumptuous lunch made with one of its typical and special dishes: the calzone, a facaccia stuffed with onions, fried cod, vegetables and olives that is baked in a crackling wooden oven. If you want to taste it, a small salami shop near the Basilica of Madonna dei Martiri (Our Lady of Martyrs) will prepare it in a genuine manner.  Here, a real woman still follows the ancient recipe and uses the freshest fish.
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CHURCH OF PURGATORIO
CHURCH OF SAINT STEPHEN
GIULIO COZZOLI COLLECTION
DIOCESAN MUSEUM






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