10 marzo 2005

The incredible oxen race of San Martino

More info about Molise and Italia al Dente hereEvery year on the 30th April, the ritual of the race of the oxen hauling the chariots is renewed, in honor of the patron San Leo
In San Martino in Pensilis it is narrated that the rests of Saint Leo, which miraculously reached Molise at the end of the XIII century, were contented by various communities. To solve the controversy, it was established to place the Saint’s relics on a chariot hauled by oxen, and let the Saint choose. The oxes ran for long time but finally reached Saint Martino, they passed through the “Marina” way and they stopped in front of Holy Mary church with the incredulity of the crowd.
Since those remote times, every year on the 30th April, the ritual of the race of the oxes hauling the chariots is renewed. The participants, divided in the factions of “giovani”, “giovanotti” and "giovanissimi" starting from the “tratturo”, following an external route to the country, and then the inner roads, try themselves in a spectacular contest between the excitement and clamour of the crowd.
To the winners’chariots goes the honour to transport the statue of Saint Leo during the procession. The manifestation is deeply rooted in the population and although the passing of time, it maintains its fascination intact. The “carrese” of Saint Martino in Pensilis is surely the longest race and for this reason during the contest the oaxes can be replaced.