Macchina di Santa Rosa
The Macchina of Santa Rosa is a 30 metre high tower, which is rebuilt every year in the months of July and August in honor of Saint Rose of Viterbo, the patron saint of the city of Viterbo, Italy. Every year on the evening of 3 September 100 men called "Facchini di Santa Rosa" (porters of Saint Rose) hoist the Macchina and carry it through the very narrow streets and squares of the medieval town centre. The whole route is a little bit more than 1 km.
The transport of the Macchina dates back to the transfer to the of the body of Saint Rose of Viterbo. In 1258, six years after her death, she was moved at the disposition of the Pope Alexander IV, from the former church Santa Maria del Poggio to the church Santa Maria delle Rose (today the pilgrimage chapel of Saint Rose).
Every five years a design competition is launched for a new Macchina. The guidelines of the competition ask for a 28m high tower, which is measured from the shoulder of the porters. The construction's maximum weight is to be less than 5 tonnes and the maximum width 4,3 metres. This is to respect the narrow parts of the historical centre, where eaves and balconies could strike the Macchina during transportation.
The appearance of the Macchina has changed throughout history. The altar-like constructions from the 18th century developed to constructions similar to church towers and in the 2nd half of the 20th century they developed to 30m high sculptural towers. While originally the towers were mainly made from papier mâché, today materials like steel, aluminium and fibre glass are used to achieve a light and fireproof construction.
Since 2009 the new Macchina of Santa Rosa is called "Fiore del Cielo" (ital. Flower of the Sky). It was designed by the architecture office Architecture and Vision (architects: Arturo Vittori and Andreas Vogler). The design is characterized by the three golden helix surfaces which grow upwards. In contrast to the former Macchina many innovations were introduced. Some of these are the golden color scheme and more than 1200 computer-controlled LED lights, which are illuminating the handmade textile roses. A special scenography was developed, which also includes a rain of rose petals on the spectators at a certain stop.
The transport of the Macchina of Santa Rosa is the annual main event of the city of Viterbo. Already at the afternoon the streets of the historical centre are being filled with citizens and visitors. The transport begins at the Porta Romana, where the assembled Macchina stays in a scaffold, which is covered with curtains. At around 8 pm the 800 candles of the Macchina are lighted by the local fire brigade. The street lighting will be switched off completely. At around 9 pm the Facchini are going to lift the 5 tonnes Macchina and run the first leg of the passage while acclaimed by the spectators. During the transport there are five breaks. During these breaks the Macchina is put on special frames. The stopping places are:
- Piazza Fontana Grande
- Piazza del Plebiscito (in front of the guildhall)
- Piazza delle Erbe
- Corso Italia (in front of the church Santa Maria del Suffragio)
- Piazza del Teatro.
The last stretch up to the church of Santa Rosa has a remarkable inclination. In order to overcome this slope, the Macchina is pulled by ropes and additional people and is eventually placed in front of the pilgrimage chapel. The Macchina is exposed there for some days after the event.
- 1984: on the occasion of the arrival of the pontifex John Paul II, on 27 May there was organized a special transport.
- 2009: on 6 September, Pope Benedict XVI could see the new Macchina of Santa Rosa Fiore del Cielo in front of the pilgrimage chapel.
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