Femminiello Pride

Published Date Author: , January 14th, 2016

Femmineillo Pride

Irpinia contradicts everything you expect about Southern Italy. The rainy climate and green mountains have more in common with the Pacific Northwest than the Amalfi Coast, just 40 miles away. Instead of Roman ruins like those at Pompeii, stones remain from the Osci, the native Campanian tribe known for their salacious festivals. The spiritual center of the region is the famously hard-to-reach church at Montevergine.

Pilgrims arrive after long bus rides over highways that span seemingly bottomless gorges. Irpinia’s landscape is foreboding, which is why the Montevergine pilgrimage has always required strong and focused devotion. The thin air is hard to breathe. The damp stone from the mountain’s peaks perfume the air with ancient minerals.

In the cleared piazza, old women sell candles and chestnuts, but the attention belongs to the crowds of dancing men and women beating tambourines and clapping out ancient rhythms with castanets. If you took away the down coats and wool hats, the scene would look like it inspired one of the ancient mosaics on display at the archaeological museum in nearby Naples.

Energy builds among the devotees who pray and sing as the faithful have done here since the thirteenth century. But on February 2nd devotees wear lipstick and stubble and feather boas. By the time night descends, over two thousand gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pilgrims will have passed through this Catholic shrine to worship the icon they call the ‘Madonna of Transformation.’

By Danielle Oteri – Full Story at Roads and Kingdoms

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