“La Madonna che scappa”(The Madonna’s Run) in Sulmona’s Square: An Extraordinary Easter Tradition

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There’s a tradition so captivating and moving that unfolds in the picturesque town of Sulmona, nestled in the heart of Italy, every Easter Sunday.

It’s the celebration of the “La Madonna che scappa“(Madonna’s Run) in Piazza Garibaldi, an event that stirs the soul and transports anyone privileged to witness it into a world of vibrant emotions and ancient tradition.

Not coincidentally, Sulmona serves as our base for the first part of our The Abruzzo, Puglia & Matera Experience Tour, and it is consistently highly appreciated by our travelers.


The roots of this extraordinary ritual delve deep into centuries past, with documents suggesting its origins trace back to the Middle Ages.

However, it’s in the heart of the 19th century that this practice began to take the shape we know today.

The Confraternity of Santa Maria di Loreto, also known as the “Lauretani“, serves as the custodian of this millennial tradition, guiding the people of Sulmona through an experience that melds sacredness with folklore.

On Easter Sunday, Piazza Garibaldi transforms into a lively and vibrant stage, with thousands of people flocking to witness the moving representation.

The square itself, with its ancient charm and the grandeur of its buildings, provides the perfect backdrop for this unique spectacle.

As the confusion and bustle of the crowd swell in the square, inside the Church of Santa Maria della Tomba, there’s an air of sacredness and solemnity.

Here, the statue of the Virgin Mary, dressed in mourning and enveloped in her grief for the death of her Son, stands in poignant contrast to the festive atmosphere outside.

The event sees the participation of two holy figures, Saint Peter and Saint John, attempting to announce to the Virgin the resurrection of Christ.

But it’s only on the third attempt, when Saint John knocks once again on the church door, that the Madonna finally agrees to emerge and make her way toward her risen Son.

At precisely noon, the long-awaited moment arrives, and the Madonna begins her hopeful run toward the risen Christ.

It’s a moment of profound significance and emotion, transforming not only the spirit of the present crowd but also the Madonna’s appearance itself.

As she moves with hope and faith across the square, her black attire, symbolizing mourning and sorrow, gently falls away, revealing a green dress symbolizing life and rebirth.

In her right hand, the white handkerchief, symbolizing sadness and farewell, is replaced by a red rose, signifying love and joy.

As the Madonna continues her run, twelve white doves, previously positioned under the statue’s pedestal, are released, soaring into the sky and carrying with them a sense of peace and hope.

The thunder of firecrackers and the strains of the band accompany this extraordinary spectacle, creating an atmosphere of celebration and devotion.

When the Madonna finally reaches the risen Christ, the moment is touching and poignant.

Members of the Confraternity embrace and join in prayer, testifying to the importance and sacredness of this divine encounter.

It’s a moment of universal participation, where faith and hope merge, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those witnessing this extraordinary Easter event in Sulmona.

Tradition holds that if the Madonna’s run proceeds without incident, it bodes well for the coming year, with nature bestowing its gifts abundantly.

Every element of this ritual, from the doves soaring in the sky to the statue’s veil gently falling, is scrutinized by spectators, as each carries the promise of a brighter future.

This is more than just a simple Easter tradition; it’s a moment of connection with the divine, an experience that touches the hearts and souls of all who partake.

“La Madonna che Scappa” in Sulmona is a treasure of humanity, a testament to the strength of faith and the beauty of traditions that bind us to the past and inspire us for the future.

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