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Virgin Mary’s Blood

© Mario Spada
© Mario Spada

Workshop: Il Sangue della Madonna / Virgin Mary’s Blood
Main Location CFI, Corso Umberto I, 237, Naples 80100, Italy | Official Website | Workshop Calendar: April 3-6, 2015: All day long.

Virgin Mary’s Bleeding is an incomparable experience from both, human and photographic perspectives. Sacred and profane, live theatre performances, tribal dances, ecstatic rituals are all mixed and mingled together, in a unique ritual festivity in which everyone is required to “exaggerate”.
Photographer Mario Spada will firstly introduce Bleeding Virgin Mary’s pilgrimage, with the aid of his previous documentary works dedicated to it. Through them, he will show examples of how to build a photo story on a similar topic. Then, together with participants and in harmony with their styles and attitudes, he will build a plan for the next days’ narrative plots, led by different languages and moments.

Well-known Madonna dell’Arco Day’s pilgrimage occurs every year on Easter Monday, when hundreds of fujenti, “those who run barefoot”, walk to St. Anastasia’s shrine (12 km East of Naples).
The ritual pilgrimage recalls this Madonna’s first wound -origin to her first historical miracle.
It is said that, on 1500 A.D., “a ball mallet” (sort of baseball) player was furious for missing the last shot and losing the match. Hence, he bashed the wood painted image of Virgin Mary, located in St. Anastasia. Soon the icon started bleeding, while the wicked man, seized by uncontrollable frenzy, began to persistently run and jump around. Then he was hanged and, on the site of the miracle, there was built a chapel dedicated to the prodigious icon.
After the following enlargements, the Chapel took on today’s Dominican sanctuary shape and size.
During Easter Monday’s celebrations pilgrims are ritually dressed in white robes, symbolizing purity, and wear a blue waist, recalling Heavenly Mother (Virgin Mary)’s symbolic color. Devotees traditionally belong to the less guaranteed suburban and peasant underclasses, from Naples and its suburbs.
The pilgrims are organized in unnumbered associations, widely distributed all over the whole territory. On the very day of the feast each of them is represented by its own crew, paranza, which has the task to bring to shoulder a tosello – a statue of Madonna dell’Arco on her throne. Every paranza, is preceded by one or more banners bearing the name of the Association, its original site and the date of its foundation.

Since there will be a ponderous field shooting experience in the crowd, following the paranzas, coming from all the districts of Naples at every hour also at night sometimes, the workshop is very intensive.


April 3
– Introduction to course, teachers and students;
– Projection of Mario Spada’s La Madonna dell’Arco – about the Madonna dell’Arco’s celebrations;
– Comment by Mario Spada;
– Question Time.
– Spot investigation inside paranze (Madonna dell’Arco District area associations)’s headquarters;

April 4
Morning & Afternoon:
– Photographic work on the spot together with the parading paranze;
– First view and critique of the produced visuals;
– Editing.

April 5
– Photographic work on the spot together with the parading paranze;
– Eastern traditional luncheon;
– Photographic work on the spot together with the parading paranze;
– First view and critique of the produced visuals;
– Editing.

April 6
– Outdoor photo shooting on the field of Pilgrim’s religious journey to the Sanctuary.
– Review of the produced photographs;
– Editing;
Convivial evening meal and projection of the final works slide-show.

Price: 300,00 €.
Registration deadline: March 30, 2015.
Contacts: info@mariospada.it; centrodifotografiaindipendente@gmail.com

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Sabrina Merolla

Sabrina Merolla 1977, Italy. Free-lance photographer, sinologist and multimedia story-teller living between China and Italy. Her personal projects have mainly focused on contemporary China… More »

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