Photos of the procession for SS Cosma and Damiano are made by Annese's Brothers. Photos of the procession for Saint Anthony are made by Foto Giannini.

Worship and feasts

People say that Cosma and Damiano, Alberobello's patron saints, carried out hard surgeries in Cilicia, on the South-East coast of Turkey. Since they had converted many people to Christianity, Diocletian, the governor of that region, got furious with them and ordered to behead them. In the South of Italy their worship was introduced around the seventh century by Brasilian monks coming from the Balkans, who built many temples in their honour. In Alberobello their worship dates back to the seventeenth century, thanks to Isabella Filomarino, wife of Giangirolamo Acquaviva d'Aragona, count of Conversano. Indeed, after having received a grace of the Saints Cosma and Damiano, she asked for a chapel to be built in their honour. The 27 September 1636 the count organized the first procession in the Sylva of Alberobello, at which soldiers with torches, the few inhabitants of the village and feud's noblewomen and noblemen took part. Until 1665, when the count died, the worship was just carried out by the count family. From that time onwards, inhabitants became devoted to the Saints and began to organize a procession in which they carried a painting of them, which was stored in a rural church in the country. In 1781 there were problems during the procession, caused by the Highwayman Scannacornacchia, who tried to steal the painting. For this reason, the next year they decided not to carry the painting, but to take Saint Cosma statue, to whom, two years after, was added that of Saint Damiano. That was possible thanks to a peasant, Giuseppe Domenico Rinaldi, who asked the sculpture F. P. Antolini to make the two statues. The sculpture delivered only one of the two before dying; therefore the other one was made by Luca from Rutigliano. Nowadays, every year, from 26 to 28 September Alberobello shows its worship, raising tourists' astonishment and the active participation of devoted people, who turn out to attend the feast. The processions with the two statues still show authentic feelings, which make devoted people take part to them. The participation of barefoot people - above all old people - and of parents of disabled children makes everybody understand that it's not a question of folklore, but a question of authentic worship. The 28 September there is a Mass dedicated to Alberobello's citizens now residing abroad. Indeed, many people who live abroad have preserved their worship. However, the feast - above all during the night - also includes particular scents, lights, typical food and tastes which recall familiar memories, as well as very long banquets organized by all families. Every year there are wonderful fireworks, lights, music groups, as well as animal fairs. Pilgrims walk from other towns to Alberobello in order to take part to the first Mass of the Feast, at 4 am.
We also have to mention Saint Anthony's feast, somehow different, but not less important, which takes place on the 13 June.
The statue, which represents the Saint "together with an old poor man, to whom he gives some bread", was shown in 1925 in Milan, at the Mostra campionaria. One year later Antonio Lippolis bought it from the craftsman Pasquale Errico. Nowadays, during the celebration, the statue is taken from its altar - which was built by Adolfo Rollo (1898 - 1985) - and brought through the picturesque streets of Rione Monti district.

Edited by Tommaso A. Galiani
Translated by Ilaria Noemi De Carlo