Terracina: Festivals and Traditions


Sacred and profane, solemnity and fun: these are the elements that most characterize the events linked to the centuries-old traditions of Italian cities.

Terracina also skilfully combines the charm and sacredness of religious worship with the most enthusiastic expressions in the local folklore.

The Festival of San Cesareo (Terracina’s patron saint), for example, is essentially linked to the upper part of the city and to the rural tradition, while the Madonna del Carmine, celebrated in July, invests the sounds of the Borgo Pio and the fishermen’s community with sounds, colors and perfumes.


MADONNA DEL CARMINE / FEAST OF THE SEA: first Sunday after July 16
SAN DAMIANO: September 26
SAN CESAREO: first Sunday of November


A legend tells us that Silvano fled from North Africa with his father Eleuterio, due to the persecution of the Vandals, settling in Terracina, the ancient Volscan town of Anxur. In AD 443, the bishop Iohannes died, so Silvano (Silviano) was called to succeed him, but he also died nine months later and his father Eleuterio was elected. A script contained in the Hyeronim’s Martyrology says that “in Terracina happened the birth (here, that’s meaning the death) of Silvano, bishop and confessor”; this title, “confessor”, initially, was given to the martyrs, so we could think that Silviano died as a martyr, also considering the brevity of his episcopate and his still young age. The only remembrance of the saint are the remains of an ancient church and a monastery, very famous in the 10th century, which are located outside Terracina, near Mount Leano, in front of the Via Appia Nuova.

The saint is celebrated in the homonymous district on May 1st. A crowd of believers, especially farmers, unite themselves as a procession that starts from the Town Hall Square and, along the ancient Appian Way, ends in the church dedicated to him. During the journey, food and wine areas are set up, where you can enjoy the typical products of our territory.


His real name was Fernando Martins Taveira de Bulhões, born in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1195. At 15 he was a novice in the monastery of São Vicente de Fora. In 1219, he was ordained as a priest. One year later, he joined a small hermitage in Olivais, adopting the name Anthony (from the name of the chapel located there, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great), by which he was to be known.

The reason St. Anthony’s help is invoked for finding things lost or stolen is traced to an incident that occurred in Bologna. According to the story, Anthony had a book of psalms that was of some importance to him as it contained the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching his students. A novice who had decided to leave took the psalter with him. Prior to the invention of the printing press, any book was an item of value. Upon noticing it was missing, Anthony prayed it would be found or returned. The thief was moved to restore the book to Anthony and return to the Order. The stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.

In 1226, after attending the General Chapter of his order held at Arles, France, and preaching in the French region of Provence, Anthony returned to Italy and was appointed provincial superior of northern Italy. He chose the city of Padua as his location, where he died five years later.

The church in the hamlet of Borgo Hermada, located in Piazza IV Novembre, is dedicated to him. His festivity recurs precisely on June 13.


On Sunday after July 16, take place the Feast of the Madonna del Carmine, or Festa del Mare, which occupies a special place in the terracinese folklore. The festival essentially identifies with the Marina district and maintains an authentic cultural relationship with the sea, especially since the beginning of the last century, when the Madonna del Carmine (St. Mary of Mount Carmel) became the patron saint of the fishermen’s community. The Holy Mass, which is celebrated in the Church of Holy Saviour, in the Borgo Pio district, and the procession towards the sea (which starts from the church along the streets of the center until reaching the harbor, near the pier) belong to the most deeply rooted historical-religious traditions of our territory.


The origins of this feast (whose celebration takes place on September 8) are not sufficiently documented. Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the second decade of the 15th century, the image of the Virgin was venerated in the precise place where she is still admired today. And it was the same that we can see nowadays. This is a fresco which, with greater proportions and much higher art, was realized in the church built at the beginning of the 15th century, and remains intact in the current sanctuary (begun in 1889 and opened to the public in 1896). Nowadays the Capuchin fathers are its custodians.  It is one of the social and “urbanistic” reflections of the religious fact. It is no coincidence that nowadays, around the Sanctuary of the Delibera, has been built a populous borough.


The first Sunday of November is celebrated the Patron Saint of Terracina, Cesareo (Caesarium). A North African-born deacon (the same of San Silviano), who moved to Terracina during the age of Emperor Claudius (1st century AD). He was martyred by order of the pagan governor of the city, because he had tried to save a young boy named Luciano from a sacrifice planned in honor of the god Jupiter. Both were thrown from the cliff of Monte Sant’Angelo.


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