Composition of the Cortège

Cloths from the World

Saint Nicholas is the Saint having the most patronages of the world. He is Saint Patron of Russia, New York and Amsterdam, of the Loire, of Alpine villages, in Portugal and Chile, in Mexico where he is Saint Patron of countrymen, in Argentina where he is Saint Nicholas of Streams. In his name, in Albania and Palestine, lasting truces are signed among belligerent factions; always in Palestine and Albania, in his name, Jews and Muslims join together for his celebration. Saint Nicholas is present all over Scandinavia, Indonesia, Iran. He is present all over the Orthodox world; he is arrived with Christopher Columbus in America. Symbolically portrayed, his trace is everywhere on Earth; in any place there is space for him.

1st scene: The legend of the evil innkeeper

The bond between Saint Nicholas and children is centuries-old and deep. By his message of justice and protection, the Saint shows us the way for a possible awareness and attention for the protection of the future, and also of our souls, from one of the hugest horrors: child abuse. The legend tells that Nicholas saved three children, killed by an innkeeper who used children’s meat as delicious dish, specialty of his famous restaurant. Moreover, the intervention of the Saint pushed the innkeeper to conversion. The abuse of adults is a huge evil that can absorb children and their future. Often, differently from the companions of the inn, the modern companions of “children’s meat” know what they are ordering. Saint Nicholas defends their life and their youth and returns adults a deep sense of responsibility towards children.

2nd scene: If I were Saint Nicholas…

Saint Nicholas is the Saint of everything and everyone. The Bishop of Myra is the bearer of a message of reception and integration involving the entire world, without distinction of race, sex and religion: in several parts of the world, in his name truces occur, and in his name several Christian denominations join in only one celebration; in his name his feast is celebrated by the three main monotheisms. Hence, Bari becomes the ecumenical centre of a world grid of faith and devotion. In the seat of the Municipality, heart of the modern city, there will be the symbolical reception of the most representative figures of Saint Nicholas in the world, and they will come out of here to join the Procession, welcomed by the population of Bari. Bari makes the testimony of Saint Nicholas intense and welcomes the population of Saint Nicholas into only one hug: from Mexico to Russia, the faithful join into a choir of joyful prayers and invocation in all the languages.

3rd scene: If I were Saint Nicholas…

Children are the living testimony of the sacred fire of Saint Nicholas. The Saint entrusts children with the active message of change that makes them promoters of the creation of a better future. 2019 is a tangible sign: from Sweden to Rome, from the United States to Afghanistan, children are speaking up, asking for reliability to us, the adults. The testimony of Saint Nicholas points to the awareness about what we have to do topay the debt of gratitude towards the Saint, actively, every day. During a workshop with schools in Bari, the little students were asked: “what would you do, if you were Saint Nicholas, today, here, now?” And they have answered. And they have actively involved themselves and the adults. Their thoughts become messages that on board small coloured boats, small modern Caravels, symbolically bring back the intense testimony of Saint Nicholas, and over.

4th scene: The child in hot water

Saint Nicholas puts the accent on the engagement that adults must have towards children. Adults have to intervene to deliver in the hands of children a better world, to ensure them a better world, to ensure them a future of peace and justice. The legend tells that Nicholas saved a child from a big pot of hot water where his mother, by mistake, had forgotten him while she was making him a bath. The distraction was due to the bells of the church that had suddenly started ringing in celebration… Nicholas had become Bishop!! Taken by immense joy, the mother had run to the church, forgetting for a tragic moment, what she was doing. Nicholas teaches the humana pietas: the mistakes done in good faith are part of the human journey, the important thing is to remedy. The sense of responsibility that adults must have towards children, but also towards themselves and the others, the Saint invites us, has to be pushed by this feeling.

5th picture: The weaht, hearth of the family

Saint Nicholas has been linked to bread in any part of the world for centuries. His miracle of wheat is here lived into a concrete act: he has saved his people during famine, and continues to feed his faithful still nowadays. Bread, metaphor of family and reception, of roots and sharing, is a universal symbol. From the grain to his most careful processing, wheat is identified with the most ancient root from which the family bonds are born and transforms its essence becoming seed of respect and love, and then nourishment for the hunger of body and soul. The main element of definition of a family is love. Love that has to hug all the members, above all the defenceless, endless love, that can welcome who has not a family or has lost it. As a matter of fact, family is the place where children are welcome and protected, their instinctive shelter from injustice and abuses, the place of roots, even if well planted and deep, ensure that the winds of life have not to frighten. And the grain of wheat and their processing are still as Saint Nicholas has seen and tasted the, today as in the past centuries…

6th scene: Damned oil, fire at sea

Saint Nicholas shows us that enlightment is knowledge; the fire from destructive element becomes a salvation for the souls of the pilgrims. The legend tells that Saint Nicholas saved from the stormy sea some pilgrims who were travelling to his tomb. Sailors carried on board also a cruet of precious oil entrusted by an old lady: in reality it was the Devil in disguise, who wanted to bring misfortune. Saint Nicholas made them throw the cruet in the sea; it burnt and calmed the waves. Hence fire represents the rebirth, the relief from the poisons of evil, the possibility to redeem and bring the light of Saint Nicholas, full of wisdom, all over the world.

7th picture: The Caravel in the world

The Caravel is the symbol of the worship of Saint Nicholas. It is the medium of discovery leading us towards the light and joins Bari to the world of Saint Nicholas. The Saint invites us to enlighten our hearts by his lesson not to commemorate his ashes, but to bring to the world his light and his teaching. We, the faithful, we have to preserve this light to enlighten the future of the Earth.

The shows

Palazzo di Città. Piazza Libertà

Saint Nicholas is the bearer of light in the world, beacon of hope from North to South, from East to West. In the heart of Bari, in the presence of the renewed Teatro Piccini, a show of aerial dance with elements and suggestions linked to the light will pay homage to the passage of the Caravel.

Margherita Theatre. Piazza IV Novembre

Close to Teatro Margherita, important place of culture of the city, a voiceover will tell live the miracles of the Saint, while waiting for the passage of the Caravel. Its arrival will be celebrated with a special greeting show.


Basilica di San Nicola

The churchyard of the Basilica is the stage where the sacred night takes life and where the testimonies celebrated during the Procession join together: timpanists, flag-twirlers, the dancing paintings and the Caravel with the icon of the Saint. The drama of the miracles of Saint Nicholas opens a glimmer between the real world and the sacred world. In this outline, two little girls enter the scene; they are symbol of the new generations that become witnesses of the magic of Saint Nicholas. The Saint urges them to recognize the teaching of peace and reception and bring it to the world to create a better future. The two little girls, and Bari with them, engage in keeping and revive every day the sacred fire of Saint Nicholas. Hence, the Basilica becomes the driving force of light for all mankind.

Path of the Cortège

A Piazza Federico II di Svevia, B Via San Francesco D’Assisi, C Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, D Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, E Teatro Margherita, F Lungomare Imperatore Augusto, Largo Papa Urbano II, G Piazza della Basilica