Guardia Sanframondi, Province of Benevento, Campania
Guardia Sanframondi rises on a high crest in the Sannio area, dominated by a medieval castle. Most of the old section of town is accessible only on foot along steep streets. Below the town is one of the largest cooperative wineries in Europe, producing Guardiolo and Sannio wines.
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- Altitude: 428 m a.s.l
- Population: about 4900 inhabitants in 2017
- Zip/postal code: 82034
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0824
- Demonym: guardiesi
- Patron Saint: San Filippo Neri, celebrated on 26 May
- Frazioni & Località: Contrada Cavarena, Santa Lucia, Sapenzie, Tre Pietre, Galano, Zeppa di Ferro, Fornace, Cervillo.
- The riti settennali di penitenza, a very special rite coming from medieval traditions, commemorating the discovery of a Madonna and Child statue found in a field hundreds of years ago. Every seven years, starting from the first Monday after August 15th and until the following Sunday, seven-year rituals of penance are held. A session was held in August 2017, the next one is scheduled from 19 to 25 August 2024. The rite actually consists of four elements:
- Mysteries procession: each of the four quarters of the town organize a parade of "mysteries" (religious scenes) with characters in costume from the Old and New Testaments, and Lives of Saints.
- Choirs - each quarter also forms a choir that joins the processions. Traditionally formed by unmarried girls, more recently the choirs include married women, and occasionally men. The choristers wear white costumes, crowns of thorns, and braided cords around their shoulders.
- Penitents procession: several flagellanti ("flagellants") join in striking their backs with a metal scourge. On the Sunday procession is joined by several hundred battenti ("beaters") who strike their chests with a "spugna" (a disk of cork holding dozens of pins). The "flagellanti" and "battenti" are anonymous, wear white hoods and cannot tell family members they are participating.
- Statue procession: The rite ends with the procession of the Madonna and Child statue through the town. When the statue makes its way to the town center, the "battenti" walk in front of it on their knees, while the crowds follow the statue, or walk backwards in front of it. The procession ends as the statue is returned to the church.