To understand the nature of the relationship between Salerno and its patron we need to go through historical overview: the apostle Matthew was born in Capernaum in Galilee, where he carried out the activities of tax collector on behalf of the Roman Empire before following Jesus Nazareth. On the death of the latter he moved to Ethiopia where he preached his gospel until the martyrdom suffered in 69 AD; where he was killed, around 69 A.D.
In the fifth century, his mortal remains were taken to the city of Velia, on the Tyrrhenian coast of the ancient Lucania (now Cilento) and there they remained for four centuries until the monaco Athanasius, found the remains near a thermal spring in the city, brought them into the church of San Matteo in Casal Velino. In the cilentan church they remained for a while, because they were soon moved to the cathedral of Capaccio, where they were kept until 6th May 954, when you have the most important religious event of the sacred history of Salerno: the transfer of the body of St. Matthew from the town of Piana del Sele to the capital of Longobard Principality.
The legend tells that on the day of transfer of the silver casket containing the relics of St. Matthew it has occurred "the miracle of the manna," which oozed from the body of the saint then being collected in a jar of silver. The miracle of "Manna" has been repeated every year on the 6th of May and September 21st until 1800. After this first miracle St. Matthew has protected several times over the centuries, the city that venerates him, as in 1544, when, according to tradition, the patron saint Salerno saved from destruction, forcing to escape the Saracen pirates led by Ariadeno "Barbarossa ". In sign of gratitude the emblem of the city was embellished with the figure of St. Matthew with his left hand holding the Gospel and with the right blessing.
The anniversary was celebrated each year with the "Feast of Barbarossa" during which it was carried in procession a glass case with some relics of the saint, and after August 19, 1691, was carried in procession his silver bust, donated by the people to the Cathedral in gratitude for saving it from the earthquake of 1688. Since then Salernitani pledged to lead in procession every year, with great solemnity, for the whole city, the statue of the patron saint.
Even during the plague, which spread in Salerno in 1656, St. Matthew rescued his loyal people, when on September 20th, on the eve of the feast in his honor, a warm wind shifted the thick black clouds over the city, and at the time where salernitani called on the name of their patron saint a providential rain bathed them moving away the terrible scourge.The celebration
There are two important dates in the celebration of St. Matthew: May 6th, the day that commemorates the transfer of the relics; September 21st, the feast day of the patron saint.
In the past, the anniversary of the transfer was a very important celebration in honor of which all the parishes of Salerno prepared the big trophies of flowers, depicting the symbol of their own Church. During the night between the 5th and May 6th, at the sound of the bells, the trophies were taken in procession to the Cathedral, where the following day it was celebrated a special Mass with the blessing of the city population. Unfortunately today the party no longer has the echo of a time even if it has been partially restored.
The focus of the celebration of the saint is however always on September 21st, the day when there is a procession through the center of town, along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, down by via Velia, then parading along Via Roma until the Church of the Annunziata, finally returning on the Via dei Mercanti down to the Duomo.
Lead the procession three silver statues of the Holy Martyrs, Anthes, Gaius and Fortunato, nicely defined by the people as the "three sisters" of St. Matthew for their sweet faces with features and long hair. The three young saints, who watch over the city with the Evangelist, were sentenced to death during the persecutions of Diocletian. The remains of the Holy Martyrs are kept in the central apse of the crypt of the Cathedral, which houses also the marble column on which the three martyrs were beheaded.
Then there is the precious statue, dating back to 1742, the San Gregorio VII, Pope died in exile in Salerno in 1085. He was consecrated in 1804, the cathedral built by Robert Guiscard and dedicated to St. Matthew. On the right a sarcophagus-altar welcomes onyx urn of the relics of the Pope since 1985, when, after several transfers, were again placed where they were welcomed by 1614. Isolated in the apse, the sarcophagus of the second century AD It is among the most solemn kept in the Cathedral.
Further back, supported by the "fishing boat" made up by the porters of the market, parades the heavier statue, the wooden bust of St. Joseph, dating from the time of the School of Medicine, protector of the corporation of artifices. Finally, the magnificent silver statue of San Matteo, richly adorned with flowers, carried by port workers that hand down from generation to generation this custom.
Program 2015: Festa di San Matteo
Note: On May 6th it takes place the celebration of the transfer of the relics.