Messa dello spadone
The Messa dello Spadone (Mass of the Broadsword) is held every year on the morning of the Epiphany, 6 January.
Since no reliable documentation exists, the origin and the meaning of this celebration are frequently debated. Some scholars date its beginning to Gregorio of Montelongo (1251-1269), who upon assumption of the Patriarchate of Cividale in 1252 consecrated to God the enemy flags from the war waged by the Church against Emperor Frederick II. More probably, the ceremony dates back to the time of Patriarch Marquard von Randeck. The fact that the sword traditionally used in the ceremony belonged to Patriarch Randeck - at least according to a writing engraved on its handle - would indirectly confirm this hypothesis.
The profoundly symbolic ceremony joins the political and spiritual sectors of the Aquileia Patriarchate. In fact the Patriarch was not only the spiritual head of eighteen dioceses but also the political head of a territory which began at the River Livenza and extended all the way to the River Sava in the western Balkans.
The solemn function begins at the sacristy and proceeds to the main altar. A rigid protocol assigns the clergy a precise place in the procession. The resplendent ceremony is preceded by an altar boy, holding an astylar silver cross, and two candle holders. The college of the clergy and the sub-deacon are close behind, then the lofty figure of the deacon appears wearing a tall, plumed helmet, grasping a heavy sword in his right hand and pressing an Evangeliary book to his chest in his left hand. Following the deacon is the celebrant with the master of ceremony at his side. Several times during the procession the clergy turn towards the crowd; the deacon steps forward and vibrates the shiny sword high in the air three times, a sign of blessing or perhaps greeting. After this religious function they solemnly return to the sacristy.
Immediately afterwards another procession takes place: the grandiose historical procession which winds through the city streets and ends in piazza Duomo. Here a herald reads the Decree which bestows temporal power upon the Patriarch. The Patriarch then confirms the feudal holding of the noblemen and vassals touching their left shoulders with the mighty sword; in the end he blesses the crowd.
In this impressive re-enactment the town of Cividale proudly remembers one of their most beloved Patriarchs, Marquard von Rendeck, whose reign began on 7 June 1366. Even though Friuli was disputed between the Counts of Gorizia, Austria and Venice, he prevented the outbreak of war, thereby donating to his people a period of peace. He also established an important body of laws which remained in force after the end of the Patriarchate.
Messa dello spadoneCorso Paolino di Aquileia, 10
33043 Cividale del Friuli (UD)
Telefono: 0432 731461 Fax: 0432 731398