Feast of the Patron Saint
Saint Peter the Apostle is the patron saint of Cetara and could not be otherwise, given the strong link of the Saint and the country with fishing and the sea. The devotion to the first Pope is very strong in the country and is confirmed throughout the year and in particular in some major moments:
22 February – The Chair of Saint Peter
The wooden statue of the patron saint is taken from the niche, adorned and placed on the side of the high altar for a solemn celebration.
June 19 – Raising of the “cloth” and blessing of the sea by the Patron Saint
The morning of June 19 is raised at the end of the main street of the village in front of the sea, “the cloth”, a banner depicting the patron saint. Immediately after an apotropaic rite takes place what is called the “bath” of the patron saint. The saint is taken from the parish to the beach of the village where the children, after prayers by the pastor and the faithful gathered at this ritual blessing of the sea and boats, dive into the sea and splash with splashes of water their Saint in a kind of thanks and confidential sharing to wish a plentiful fishing to sailors and a summer full of satisfactions for work.
29 June – Feast of the Patron Saint
It is the most heartfelt religious festival of the country that brings to Cetara, every year, all Cetaresi moved to other areas of Italy or abroad, as well as numerous tourists and citizens of neighboring municipalities.
In the morning in the patronal church takes place the solemn Pontificale in honor of the Saint, attended by the Archbishop of Amalfi, in addition to various masses, while the band plays festively through the streets of the village. Then, back home, there is the lunch of the party where you must not miss some fish “alla scapece” roasted and with mint and vinegar and the classic spumone, a characteristic ice cream. Spumone is an ice cream that 50 years ago was stored with shiny metal lids that concealed the mouths of the “stoves” (metal cylinders with a concave base) in which the various flavors were placed. These metal forms gave it a rounded pyramidal appearance with a terminal dome. Of course it was served by emptying it from the base. The tastes were varied but had to be expertly dosed and well matched. The lemon was usually paired with strawberry, chocolate with hazelnut and the taste of nougat; the pistachio is instead well amalgamated with Sicilian cream or cassata. At the center of this ice cream was then a heart of cherries in syrup, or shelled pistachio, or even the classic wild strawberries. In closing of ice cream were added strips of sponge cake soaked in Strega liqueur. It is served in saucers cut into slices and placed on embroidered napkins made of waxed paper.
In the evening, the most important moment of the day begins: the procession through the streets of the village. The procession starts from the parish of St. Peter the Apostle with the presence at the opening of the procession of women who, often barefoot, they carry large devotional candles that are a pledge to implore the Saint’s help on behalf of some sick family member or as a sign of thanks for some grace received. Characteristic also the devotional songs that mix the popular tradition to the classical prayers. The procession also includes children dressed as sailors who carry in procession the models of purse seines stuffed with the “great pavese”.Then, follows the banner with plume and side bows donated to the Church of St. Peter by sailors who annually in the years from ’20 to ’35 of the last century were fishing in Algeria where they had stabilized for many months away from their native country. It is then the turn of the boys and girls who have recently received First Communion in the periods of May and June in turn followed by the altar boys and the parish priest who wears the red piviale and often also the Archbishop of Amalfi. The statue, as per tradition, is flanked by guardians of the police in full dress uniform, but above all by a group of sailors (often Cetaresi on duty sent by the command of the Navy to observe the Saint fisherman). The wooden statue of the Saint is placed on a throne in the shape of a boat adorned inside and outside with especially blue hydrangeas almost to mimic the effect of the waves of the sea. This is carried on the shoulder with the typical cadence that the paranze, well trained over the years, can keep mimicking the movement of the sea waves. Immediately behind the Saint there is a group of six bearers holding a pallium with plumes. Immediately behind the band. Do not miss both in the descent and when there is the ascent to the church the classic March from the work Moses by Gioacchino Rossini. Then it is the turn of civil and military authorities, with the Mayor in the lead, finally the people of the faithful who with faith and devotion follow the simulacrum of the Patron Saint. After the ascent to the Casale district at the church of S. Maria of Constantinople there is a short stop to let the porters rest. The second part of the route is all downhill until you reach the Marina where the Saint is brought to bless the sea by the shoreline almost to ensure fishermen the hope for a miraculous fishing. But the most awaited moment of the evening is represented, without a doubt, by the final race with the ability of the porters who masterfully reach running the churchyard. At the end of the evening, after the return of the statue and a tour through the stalls, placed in the area of the “Canton” and on the first part of the port, at midnight the expected fireworks, that with their spectacular beauty, close the feast that still preserves the charm of an unchanged past.
July 7 – The eighth of the Feast
Eight days after the festival, the statue of the Saint is carried in procession back to the port, where she is boarded on a fishing boat and taken, by sea, off the neighboring towns of Erchie and Vietri sul Mare. The maritime procession is followed by a group of fishing and recreational boats and welcomed by the communities of the two neighboring countries. On the way back, a mass is celebrated outdoors on the beach and then the statue, always in procession, returns to the church.